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
Mar 23, 2012
What would you do if you came into a family inheritance after years of accruing debt and working minimum-wage Jobs?
Mar 22, 2012
I am 32 years old and would consider myself financially illiterate! I briefly held a credit card, but after a series of rather poor decisions at the age of 20, I got spooked by the idea of credit altogether. When I last checked my score several years ago, it was not surprisingly in the toilet. In deciding to try and repair my finances, I checked my score today and found that it was (surprise!) 775! So after years of neglect, illiteracy and general incompetence, how do I maintain this incredible turn? Desperately in need of some sound, simple advice! Ryan, Cincinnati, OH
Mar 21, 2012
Should I consider a CD as a worthwhile investment? I am 26, work for a neat nonprofit, paid off my car in 1 year and plan to be paying student loans for 20 years. I have about $5,200 invested in stocks and mutual funds (most of which is split between a Roth and a traditional IRA). I have another $1,000 I'd like to invest. Should I continue with IRA contributions and modest stock purchases or consider something like a CD? The thing is, my online savings account APY is higher than the CD rate. I guess a third option is paying down an additional $1,000 on my student loans. What should I do? Thanks! Michael, Salisbury, MD
Mar 20, 2012
Saving on an installment plan.
Mar 19, 2012
I'm a 20-year-old college student studying computer science. I recently accepted a paid internship offer at an investment bank for the summer. After taxes, I will make around $10,000. How should I spend, invest or save this money to best prepare myself for life after college? Zach, Binghamton, NY
Mar 8, 2012
My problem is that my brother (in his late 20s) is super lazy and would never do any financial planning on his own. I've been trying to get him to open a Roth IRA for a while, but no chance. So now I'm thinking of starting one for him for his birthday and setting it up so a certain portion of his paycheck will transfer automatically. But there's no way he will ever be motivated/responsible enough to do his own investing. I'm not sure what strategy to follow because I don't want to do his investments for him. Is it worth hiring a professional? Do the major online trading sites (Etrade, Vanguard, ScottTrade, etc.) offer some kind of package where you just add some money and it is professionally invested for you? Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you! Laura, Chicago, IL
Mar 7, 2012
I don't think investors should fear the march of time. The specter of a baby boomer-driven stock and bond market implosion seems implausible to me largely because of the move toward market economies around the world. By the time retiring boomers are selling in earnest, markets will be even more global than they are now. There are a lot of foreigners to buy U.S. assets.
Mar 5, 2012
The personal savings rate seems to have moved up to the 4 percent to 5 percent range, despite savers making 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent on their money. We're back to the range that held for much of the 1990s. Considering how harsh the last couple of years have been on so many people -- from young adults seeking their first full-time job to retirees watching their pension values slide -- it's doubtful that the savings habit will erode. Memories aren't that short.