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Listener questions on saving, spending, and managing debt

Host Tess Vigeland answers listener questions about retirement, savings, students loans, and money management. She's joined by Jill Schlesinger, editor at large for CBS's Moneywatch.com.


Managing Debt

Last week, Marketplace's Jeff Tyler looked into the seven-year car loan and why consumers find it easier than ever to buy a car that would otherwise be out of their budget. This week, Tess talks to someone who's purchased a car and is now re-thinking the expense. Courtney from Lansing, Mich. bought a new car that they love, but they want to spend less on monthly bills. Should they sell the new car and take a loss to get rid of the monthly payment?

Sometimes it's necessary to incur a little debt. Tess and Jill also talk about one formula prospective students can use when figuring out the appropriate amount of money to borrow for college.

Smart Saving

Joanna from Hammond, Ind. has three young children and wants to know the best way to start saving for their future needs. She knows she'll have to start paying for their extra-curricular activities soon, and college will be close behind. Tess and Jill have tips for finding the right kind of savings account, but they want to make sure Joanna is saving for retirement too.

One listener in Arlington, Va. has a question about prioritizing her debt. Kelly has some student loan debt but also wants to start saving for a house. She wants to know if she should focus on paying down her student debt, saving for a new house, or building up her retirement account.

Tess and Jill also have tips about developing a budget for expenses and savings.

Smart Investing

Joanne from Carmel, Calif. has a good problem to have. She's saved $180,000 that she'd now like to invest. But she's having trouble finding a money manager that will take her as a client because she has less than a million dollars to manage. Jill and Tess suggest she contact the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors, or NAPFA, to find the right person to manage her wealth.

Andy from Carlsbad, Calif. is underwater on his condo. It was supposed to be an investment property and now his family is looking to expand into a larger space. He wants to know what his options are. Should they try renting their condo to help re-coop the lost value? Or would it be better in the long run to do a short sale?

Using your 401(k) wisely

When is it a good idea to cash out your 401(k) ahead of retirement? Jill says only in a life or death situation — and you must pay yourself back! Two listeners have ideas of ways to use their retirement savings for other purposes.

Sonja in Birmingham, Ala. has just relocated. She's thinking of using the small amount saved with her previous employer to help defray costs while she looks for a new job. Sally from Columbus, Ohio has an investment idea she thinks is brilliant -- or crazy. Should she use her 401(k) to purchase a home? Tess and Jill give some tips on the best way to use your retirement funds.

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.
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In regards to the best strategy for managing various debts and meeting future financial goals, I recently discovered a great online tool: www.masoro.com

Masoro is similar to other online personal financial trackers in that you input all your monthly finances, where it's different (and the feature I love!) is that it gives you a month-to-month plan on allocate your money. It takes out the quess work of what to pay off first and when.... Follow the plan and you meet your goals.... and if you get off plan, it will adjust, so you always have the next best choice. Great free tool!

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