Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 13 Dec 2019 07:54:13 -0800 Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate a57a33bd3e91a839f6c8fe496e2b2b81 Women and Retirement: Can You Afford Not to Save? for 12/04/2019 Wed, 04 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: For the past three years, my 29-year-old daughter has been working for a good company that offers a 401(k), but she still hasn't started to contribute. She says she can't afford it. How can I convince her to get going? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: I wish I had enough space in this column to share with your daughter the myriad stories I've heard from women about their retirement worries. At 29, your daughter may feel she has lots of time to save, but just talk to someone 65 or 75 who's struggling with limited retirement income and the need to start saving early comes through loud and clear.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 04, 2019</p> 7f46c2a3183a036a705385ebd341ba78 What's the Best Way to Set up an Education Fund for My Grandchild? for 11/27/2019 Wed, 27 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'd like to set up an educational fund for my new grandchild. I understand the tax benefits of a 529 account but am also interested in gifting appreciated stock. What are your thoughts? &#8212; A Reader </p> <p>Dear Reader: Congratulations on your new grandchild! I also applaud your generosity. What a fortunate child to have such a supportive family. <p>Updated: Wed Nov 27, 2019</p> 0dab518d1c9f8b87d62f8a66adb02c8c 5 Ways to Make Giving a Family Affair This Holiday Season for 11/20/2019 Wed, 20 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Reader: It seems we hear the word "gratitude" a lot these days. In spite of being faced with all kinds of challenges, the idea of being grateful for what you have &#8212; whether it's family, friends, financial security or just a beautiful moment &#8212; appears to be a common theme. I like that concept, and I like the idea of using it as a way to focus on how we can help others &#8212; in effect, how we can to share our own good fortune.</p> <p>To me, giving is an important part of everyone's financial lives, and I think it's something we should introduce our kids to at an early age. <span class="column--highlighted-text">As you teach your kids how to manage their money and save a certain percentage for their future goals, it's a natural extension to encourage them to earmark some of their money for a charitable cause.</span><p>Updated: Wed Nov 20, 2019</p> e2927a7a6d0f0e4e35680c1d591bdac7 Five Steps Women Can Take Toward Financial Empowerment for 11/13/2019 Wed, 13 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: Despite our many advances, it seems like women still fall behind men when it comes to money. Is that true? And what can we do to catch up? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: Your question is spot on because, yes, women are still behind men financially. And yes again, there are definitely things we can &#8212; and must &#8212; do to catch up.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 13, 2019</p> 73fc08e359e2e9777d0bac4a17b78b0d Are You Falling for These Financial Tricks? for 11/06/2019 Wed, 06 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: It's the rare person who doesn't occasionally fall into some poor financial habits that can lead to potentially scary results. This fall, make sure you're not tricking yourself into a financial bind. Rather, treat yourself to greater security by reviewing these 10 personal finance "gotchas" and making any necessary changes. The results can be better than chocolate!</p> <p>1) Trick: Assuming your money is going where you want it to go<p>Updated: Wed Nov 06, 2019</p> 26cbac1fab435880a138cd6ef923046d Can You Use IRA Assets to Purchase a Retirement Home? Should You? for 10/30/2019 Wed, 30 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: My wife and I are both over 63 and want to purchase a primary residence for our retirement. Can we use money from our individual retirement account for the down payment? If so, are there any tax issues? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: It's great that you and your wife are thinking ahead about where you'll live in retirement. We often focus on how much money it will take to retire comfortably, but where you'll actually call home in retirement is something a lot of people don't consider in advance. And I'm happy that you bring up the possibility of using some of your IRA assets for a down payment, as it raises a lot of related issues you'll also want to think about now.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 30, 2019</p> 79e1382d33f339018b4d07635a1a7e0f How Do Social Security Survivor Benefits Add Up? for 10/23/2019 Wed, 23 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: My husband and I are each getting Social Security based on our own work records. When one of us dies, will the survivor collect both benefits, or do we need to plan for substantially reduced income? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: There's a misconception about survivor benefits that when both spouses are collecting Social Security and one dies, the surviving spouse gets both benefits. Unfortunately, that's just not so. While on the surface that might make sense, Uncle Sam isn't that generous. <p>Updated: Wed Oct 23, 2019</p> f99563fc5161cfaebfe9b9c4aa8cf4b9 It's Open Enrollment: Are You Making the Most of Your Employee Benefits? for 10/16/2019 Wed, 16 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: It's open enrollment time, and I have a question for you: Are you taking full advantage of your employee benefits? Employee benefits play a significant part in your financial life. And to me, staying on top of what's offered is as important as staying on top of your investments. </p> <p>Open enrollment gives you the opportunity to make sure you're maximizing what's offered. So don't just assume that what worked in the past is the best for the future. It is absolutely worth it to take the time to carefully review your choices.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 16, 2019</p> 5b4be72ae5f6e4da21ab81166d1515fe Girls and Money: Six Important Steps to Take Right Now for 10/09/2019 Wed, 09 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Did you know that Oct. 11 is the International Day of the Girl Child? Designated an official international day by the United Nations, its goal is to focus attention on the particular challenges girls face worldwide, encourage programs that empower girls and celebrate the achievements of girls. </p> <p>So what does this have to do with finances? Well, to me, it brings to mind the challenges women and girls face when it comes to money right here in the United States. As I wrote in a previous column, in spite of advances in many areas, girls often don't get the same financial start as boys. And, frequently, that disparity begins at home. It's certainly not intentional, but it's a continuing concern and has ongoing repercussions as girls become adults. The good news is that with a little more awareness, parents can help turn this around.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 09, 2019</p> 573f3aca05e9af94e1100a58981d7255 Tips for Helping Elderly Parents With Their Finances for 10/02/2019 Wed, 02 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: My parents are in their early 80s. Fortunately, they're in relatively good health and still quite independent, but I want to help them be prepared should things change. How can I get involved with their finances without being intrusive? &#8212; A Reader </p> <p>Dear Reader: While popular wisdom might say that 80 is the new 60, the reality of aging means that no matter how young we may feel now, chances are we're going to need some type of help in the future. And while it's often difficult to get older adults to accept that possibility, being prepared ahead of time is the best way to ease the transition. <p>Updated: Wed Oct 02, 2019</p> 5e7072d8c9c1ad9db0c3e7ef582bd670 Do You Have to Pay Income Taxes on Social Security Benefits? for 09/25/2019 Wed, 25 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: From what I've read, if a married couple has annual withdrawals from 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts or pensions that exceed a certain amount, the couple's Social Security benefits may be taxed. Is that true? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: You're absolutely right. When it comes to income taxes, many people think only of the money they earn in a paycheck. But the reality is there are many other types of income that are subject to ordinary income taxes. And all of that income, in turn, can trigger taxes on Social Security benefits &#8212; which can come as an unwelcome surprise.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 25, 2019</p> 56d2322e22223737d92820f0f621bd68 Where's the Best Place for Extra Savings -- a Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA? for 09/18/2019 Wed, 18 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm 22 and recently started my first real job. I've had a Roth individual retirement account for a couple of years, saving what I could from my part-time jobs. Now I've also opened a Roth 401(k) through my new employer. I'm contributing up to the company match in that account, but I still have money left over at the end of the month. Should I increase my Roth 401(k) contribution or deposit my additional savings into my Roth IRA? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: First, congratulations &#8212; not only for your new job but also for your clear thinking about retirement at such a young age. While I always encourage young people to begin saving for retirement as soon as possible, it's usually a hard sell. <p>Updated: Mon Sep 23, 2019</p> 62b7d693da2457ae6e9a8ac3a3816a50 Here's How You Can Help Teachers Meet the Financial Education Challenge for 09/11/2019 Wed, 11 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: What do dinosaurs and virtual reality have to do with financial education? A lot, according to teachers who responded to the most recent financial education Innovation Challenge sponsored by the Charles Schwab Foundation in partnership with DonorsChoose. The challenge asked entrepreneurial K-12 teachers to come up with innovative ideas to bring financial concepts to life in their classrooms. And innovate they did!</p> <p>More than 1,000 ideas were submitted &#8212; ranging from creating a dinosaur-themed money and number game for K-2 students to having middle schoolers budget for and take virtual reality field trips around the world right from their own classroom. Top projects were chosen by a panel of financial literacy experts and funded with support from the Charles Schwab Foundation. <span class="column--highlighted-text">These projects were made available to teachers across the country in the form of lesson plans, all available through DonorsChoose. The result is a treasure trove of financial education ideas created by teachers for teachers.</span><p>Updated: Wed Sep 11, 2019</p> e36488768d9d9e92b2450aeeede1f1a3 Are Your Kids' Extracurricular Activities Straining Your Budget? for 09/04/2019 Wed, 04 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm the mother of a very creative 12-year-old daughter who wants to take classes in art, drama and dance, but I have a limited income. While we live a comfortable life, paying for all these extras is a real stretch. I don't want to disappoint her, but I'm struggling. How can I handle this on top of everything else? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: This is a question I'm sure a lot of parents can relate to. From sports to music to dance to computer coding, the world of kids' extracurricular activities keeps growing &#8212; and getting more expensive. According to a recent survey, 46% of parents spend more than $1,000 annually on their kids' activities, and 27% spend more than $2,000. Not only that, 62% go into debt to do it, with credit cards being the most popular form of payment. <p>Updated: Wed Sep 04, 2019</p> 49fb059970a165ddded072b8a3cdf06d Can You Spend Money on Fun Without Feeling Guilty? for 08/28/2019 Wed, 28 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by all the things I need to save for. From retirement and emergency funds to my son's college account and home repairs &#8212; on top of trying to pay extra on the mortgage and student loans &#8212; I feel as if I have very little left over for anything else. I know these bigger things are important, but sometimes I just want to splurge on something fun. How can I spend my money without feeling guilty? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: I'm impressed with your question. Most people have the opposite problem. They overspend on the fun and put saving on the back burner. So first give yourself a big round of applause for being so responsible. Then cut yourself some slack. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Though preparing for the future is important, especially saving for retirement, so is enjoying the present. And I believe you can do both.</span> It just takes organization and prioritization &#8212; plus the flexibility to make changes if life throws you some curveballs.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 28, 2019</p> 9cb81242768a385307e0c8cabeb2e65f How Can Couples Max Out Social Security Benefits? for 08/21/2019 Wed, 21 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Are you and your spouse nearing that magic age when you can file for Social Security benefits? If so, you've got a lot to think about. Because while waiting longer to file generally means a higher monthly benefit, with a little planning, couples may be able to optimize their benefits in the short and long term. </p> <p>Of course, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Each couple's finances, birth dates, relative ages, anticipated longevity and earnings records all factor in, but there are a few general guidelines that can help you get started. <p>Updated: Wed Aug 21, 2019</p> f0a1479c2c859d918d32f1e20b08519b 10 Steps to a DIY Financial Plan for 08/14/2019 Wed, 14 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Did you know that 78% of people with a financial plan pay their bills on time and save each month versus only 38% of people who don't have a plan? That's a pretty powerful statistic, if you ask me. Or would it surprise you to learn that 68% of planners have an emergency fund, while only 26% of nonplanners are financially prepared to cover an unexpected cost? </p> <p>When I hear stats like these, which were recently reported in a Schwab survey, it just reinforces my belief that everyone &#8212; no matter their financial situation &#8212; can benefit from a financial plan. So, why aren't more people planners? Usually it's because they either don't think they have enough money or think a financial plan costs too much. But as I've said many times, neither is the case. <p>Updated: Wed Aug 14, 2019</p> 2dba1edb1da7fabceb8573885ba71708 Is It Time to Declutter Your Finances? for 08/07/2019 Wed, 07 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I am trying to simplify my finances and have way too many accounts (savings, checking, brokerage, credit cards). What happens when you close an account? Is that bad to do? &#8212; A Reader </p> <p>Dear Reader: Decluttering is certainly a popular concept these days. So why not apply it to our finances? While we all start out thinking we'll keep things simple, as time goes on, it's not unusual to find ourselves with accounts we no longer need &#8212; whether it's a checking or savings account that lured us in with initial higher interest rates or that credit card with irresistible perks. So you're wise to step back, review what you have and decide what's no longer useful.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 07, 2019</p> 1600e41c89afb4250d4542dc1234b974 Should You Tap Your 401(k) to Fund Your Down Payment? for 07/31/2019 Wed, 31 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: My husband and I are trying to scrape together enough money for a down payment on our first home. Because we live in an expensive real estate market, we need to be creative and consider all our potential resources. Would it be OK if we borrowed from our 401(k)s? &#8212; A Reader </p> <p>Dear Reader: How exciting that you're buying your first home! I know how hard it can be to come up with a down payment in an expensive market, so this is a great question.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 31, 2019</p> 293dc36ecb4bfa3a29b44cf254ee22f5 Is Social Media Ruining Your Finances? for 07/24/2019 Wed, 24 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: If I asked you how much time you spend on social media each day, would you answer honestly? Chances are most of us spend more time perusing popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram than we'd like to admit. According to the Pew Research Center, in America, around 7 in 10 adults use social media to connect with friends and share news and information. "OK," you may say, "that's not necessarily a bad thing." But there is one particularly troubling aspect of social media use, revealed by Schwab's 2019 Modern Wealth Survey, that I think merits special attention: the social pressure to spend beyond our means. </p> <p>As I mentioned briefly in a previous column, the old idea of "keeping up with the Joneses" has reached an entirely new dimension today. Now, it's FOMO &#8212; fear of missing out &#8212; on all the fabulous things other people appear to be doing, buying and enjoying. And that's causing a budgetary strain for a significant number of people. In fact, respondents to the survey ranked social media as the biggest "bad" influence on how they manage their finances.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 24, 2019</p>