Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 12 Aug 2020 18:58:35 -0700 Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate 3bddee6252fc97cdb5566503e10e52a8 Do Asset Allocation and Diversification Still Work? for 08/12/2020 Wed, 12 Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Here we go again. In early March, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the 11-year bull market to a crashing halt. Since that time, the markets have largely recovered but been plagued with extreme volatility, leaving individual investors frightened and confused. While every investor knows that risk comes with the territory, the recent wild gyrations are enough to make even the hardiest investors feel unsure. </p> <p>So it comes as no surprise that I'm getting a lot of questions about how to protect a portfolio. People want to know if the standard advice has changed. The good news is that even though some points of execution have been fine-tuned, the fundamental principles of asset allocation and diversification remain the best ways to control risk. Let's take a look. <p>Updated: Wed Aug 12, 2020</p> 725a10c148529b39709eee08c898bf82 Focusing on a Tax Refund? Do Some Tax Planning Instead for 08/05/2020 Wed, 05 Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: When I did my taxes this year, I wound up owing a lot to the IRS. A friend at work mentioned they got a huge tax refund. How can I get a refund next year? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: The end of tax season always brings a host of questions from readers. Mostly they boil down to "How can I pay less in taxes?" or "How can I get a bigger refund?" Many readers don't realize that these are two very different questions. Let's explain the difference and then talk about a few steps you can take to minimize your overall tax bill, keeping more money in your pocket.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 05, 2020</p> 83ca2a93065b81d423c3ea5cac236009 How Do You Rate Your Financial Know-How? for 07/29/2020 Wed, 29 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: If I asked you to rate your financial know-how on a scale of 1-7 (with 7 being the highest), where would you place yourself? If you're like the Americans who participated in the 2018 FINRA National Financial Capability Study (NFCS), you'd probably give yourself a pretty high score. In that study, 76% of respondents placed themselves in the 5-7 range. But self-perception is one thing; reality is another. Because the same study found that only 34% could correctly answer at least four of five basic financial literacy questions on topics such as mortgages, interest rates, inflation and risk. </p> <p>Curious about your own answers? Why not take the Financial Literacy Quiz now? It not only gives you an immediate score but also shows you how you compare to others in your state. <span class="column--highlighted-text">But whether the quiz confirms your knowledge or serves as a personal wake-up call, the generally low results of the NFCS definitely demonstrate the need to improve financial literacy in our country.</span> <p>Updated: Wed Jul 29, 2020</p> ec665443f19d7777d642e5497704d1b5 How Does the SECURE Act Impact Saving After Age 70? for 07/22/2020 Wed, 22 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I turn 70 this year and am working part time. I don't necessarily need the income, but I like my work, and it gives me money to spend on a few "extras." I have a few dollars left over each month and recently read that I can still contribute to an IRA. I'm wondering if this is a good idea. &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: According to a recent Gallup survey, 63% of Americans plan on working part time during retirement. And I think that makes a lot of sense. After all, working part time not only provides some extra income; it's also a way to stay active and engaged. To my mind, it's an ideal scenario.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 22, 2020</p> 45c65ebfd1bcf6fb9c12c1be20164909 Is Market Volatility Keeping You on the Sidelines? Consider Dollar-Cost Averaging for 07/15/2020 Wed, 15 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I have money sitting in a low-interest savings account that I've been planning to invest, but I keep procrastinating. Should I take the plunge now or wait to see if the market falls more? I understand the concept of buying low, but it makes me nervous to invest so much now if the market will go down more. &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: This is a great question, and I'm so glad to be able to respond. I've been hearing from many investors like yourself who are caught off base and not sure how to react. Given the extraordinary volatility of the markets (in fact, March was the most volatile month in the stock market's history), this hesitancy is completely understandable. <p>Updated: Wed Jul 15, 2020</p> 3caea20c8eaa2ad2485906def6d28df3 The Upside of a Down Market for 07/08/2020 Wed, 08 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: This recent market is depressing. It's torture to see the value of my portfolio go down so fast. I'm still making monthly contributions to my 401(k) but don't know if that's wise. Any advice you can offer? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: It's definitely not fun to see losses in your portfolio and possibly even more difficult to continue to make contributions with the markets so volatile. This is part of what makes investing so hard. It can take a long time for investing to pay off, and along the way, there will most certainly be challenges. <p>Updated: Thu Jul 09, 2020</p> cd365519f5d810eab2a0c7e96bc9c378 Laid off and Worried About Money: What to Do Next? for 07/01/2020 Wed, 01 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm a single parent with two middle school-aged kids and was just laid off because COVID-19 regulations forced my employer to shut down. I'm worried I may be out of work for a while. I received a small severance and have a 401(k), but that's about it. What's the best way to get through the next few months? Can I draw money from my 401(k)? What about health insurance? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: As I said in a recent column about getting through tough financial times, the current crisis is impacting millions of hardworking and responsible Americans who suddenly find themselves in a financial crunch they could never have imagined only a few months ago. <p>Updated: Wed Jul 01, 2020</p> 5e9ca4340003dec145070c9a6aac8237 Protecting Your Family With Life Insurance for 06/24/2020 Wed, 24 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: My partner and I recently had our first child and are trying to get our finances in order. We met with an attorney to put together a will, and she mentioned that we might need life insurance. I do have a policy through work, but now that I'm a new dad, I don't know if it's enough. Can you advise me on how much I need and the best type? &#8212; A Reader </p> <p>Dear Reader: Congratulations on being a new dad! I'm sure you have a lot on your mind, so I'm gratified to hear that you're thinking about your finances at this important time in your life. And I'm especially glad to hear that your attorney brought up life insurance. <p>Updated: Wed Jun 24, 2020</p> c9cd26e2ee0dbb11a0bc5c2f9007e79e Survival Guide for New College Graduates in the Year of COVID-19 for 06/17/2020 Wed, 17 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: I'm hearing from lots of students and recent grads about how uneasy they are about entering the labor force in this difficult economic climate. With unemployment numbers at a record high, it's no surprise that the estimated 4 million new college graduates will have a particularly challenging time this year. But all is not lost, especially for those of you who are determined and smart about your search. Here are a few tips. </p> <p>Be Aggressive in Your Job Search<p>Updated: Wed Jun 17, 2020</p> 6ee52c4de07d4dd4a1565f56a35fb2b4 Redditors Asked Carrie These Financial Questions. Can You Relate? for 06/10/2020 Wed, 10 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Recently, I did my first ever Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA). I was really excited about it, and not just because my kids are Redditors who constantly seek and give advice on the channel. I wanted to have a real-time discussion with people about something that's weighing heavily on everyone's minds: how to manage your personal finances during times of crisis. </p> <p>I had a lively two-hour chat with the Redditors and answered about 40 questions on topics ranging from what to do with stimulus money to advice for new investors to suggestions for recent grads entering the job market during turbulent times to whether I prefer burgers or burritos. It was so much fun, and I hope I offered some actionable advice and helped calm a few fears. <p>Updated: Wed Jun 10, 2020</p> 4aaf51d8a23ec29b4e357ab79317f0f3 The Emotional Benefits of Strong Money Management for 06/03/2020 Wed, 03 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Even in the best of times, money concerns can cause a lot of stress. But according to a recent survey by the National Foundation for Financial Education, nearly 9 in 10 Americans say that COVID-19 is making money a primary cause of anxiety. Add to that the need to juggle working from home, child care, home schooling and health concerns and people are being stretched to the limit. </p> <p>Understandably, people are worried about their financial future. Equally understandably, they often don't feel like they have the energy to deal with it. But as overwhelming as it can seem, there are strategies to help you cope and stay calm. As I wrote recently, you may have to think differently to get through these times, but there are ways to do it. And it starts with awareness.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 03, 2020</p> 48c915c409f337e4a26988201c2010ff I'm in the Military. Should I Invest in a TSP? for 05/27/2020 Wed, 27 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm 26 and in the Navy. I enlisted last year and am currently stationed in South Korea. With some extra cash I'm expecting from my next deployment, I should finally have all my credit card debt paid off and a decent cash cushion. I'm ready to start seriously saving for retirement. Is a TSP a good move? I'm not sure if I'll stay in or go back to school once my contract is up. &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: First, thank you for your service. I'm constantly impressed by the discipline, sacrifice and courage service members provide our country day in and day out. With May being Military Appreciation Month, I hope you get all the recognition you deserve!<p>Updated: Wed May 27, 2020</p> a918d792ee687e828fa6fb01c6520bd6 Stressed About Money? You're Not Alone for 05/20/2020 Wed, 20 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear readers: The recent market plunge has a lot of people feeling more anxious than usual. Not surprising. Feeling out of control of your finances &#8212; and your future &#8212; takes both a financial and emotional toll. And it's not only during times like these that money causes stress. Everyday money management &#8212; or lack of it &#8212; can cause problems in seemingly unrelated parts of your life, from your relationships to your job to your health. </p> <p>With May designated as Mental Health Month, it seems timely to focus on the important part finances play in your sense of well-being. This year's theme is "Tools 2 Thrive" and offers practical tips on things like finding the positive, eliminating toxic influences and creating healthy routines. To me this positive, practical theme is a perfect segue into not only understanding how money management skills affect your happiness but also reinforcing the practical steps you can take to help yourself stay healthy financially and emotionally. Because <span class="column--highlighted-text">even when external events are seemingly out of control, there are a number of things you can do to keep yourself on an even keel.</span><p>Updated: Wed May 20, 2020</p> 3c212afa3057e41bc5fb674ff4c2a173 Let's Talk to Our Kids About Money for 05/13/2020 Wed, 13 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: With so many families around the country facing financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I'd like to devote this column to discussing ways that we as parents can best help our kids through these challenging times. </p> <p>One of the most insidious parts of this pandemic is that it has undermined our sense of personal safety. For millions of Americans, the toll of medical, emotional and financial stress is piling up. And it's not just impacting adults; our kids, regardless of whether they're 5 or 15, are likely feeling the effect as well. Although I can't offer a cure-all, I CAN offer one powerful remedy: TALK. <p>Updated: Wed May 13, 2020</p> 6a7870ec7c5a306e3d8929a0bf73e8f7 Ordinary Ways to Give Back During Extraordinary Times for 05/06/2020 Wed, 06 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: From singing on the balcony to community cheers for those on the front lines to young people grocery shopping for elderly neighbors, people around the world are reaching out in support of others during these difficult days. If there's a bright spot to what we're all going through, it's that a crisis seems to bring out a positive side of our human spirit: the desire to help. </p> <p>Today, with so many people facing extraordinary personal and financial challenges, there are lots of ways for all of us to help. From small personal gestures to larger contributions, if you have the desire to give back to your community, now is a perfect time. <p>Updated: Wed May 06, 2020</p> b81e5bc196f763ac1e78a0acb91fc7be Looking for the Best Place to Stash Your Cash? for 04/29/2020 Wed, 29 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I just lost my job and received my final paycheck with a small amount of severance money. I'll probably need the money over the next few months, especially if my job search takes a long time, but would like to invest it in the meantime. Where's a good place to put it? &#8212; A Reader </p> <p>Dear Reader: I'm sorry to hear about your losing your job. It's a difficult time for so many right now. Thankfully, though, the severance you received is a bit of a life raft. And <span class="column--highlighted-text">although I understand your desire to invest these funds, my sense is that it would be better for you to prioritize safety over growth</span>. Let's walk through your options while you are between jobs and may need access to the funds.<p>Updated: Wed Apr 29, 2020</p> 1baf9d8b4fced183527a06bb161be9c2 Should You Refinance Your Mortgage? for 04/22/2020 Wed, 22 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: With interest rates dropping, I'm thinking of refinancing my mortgage. What do I need to know? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: Interest rates are on a lot of people's minds these days. For savers, rising interest rates are a plus, but borrowers benefit more when interest rates are low. For homebuyers and existing homeowners with a mortgage, lower interest rates can mean saving thousands in interest charges. But whether it makes sense to refinance your own mortgage depends on several factors. <p>Updated: Wed Apr 22, 2020</p> c0325f91387b6c7e0a6c6a48d7b3128a Today's New Financial Reality: How to Get Through the Tough Times for 04/15/2020 Wed, 15 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Today we often hear the phrase "extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures." And while it's usually used to refer to large-scale problems and solutions, I think it can apply much closer to home as more and more people are faced with a fast-changing financial reality. It's not just about the markets and investors. This new reality affects everyday decisions on how we spend, how we save, and how we protect ourselves and our families. </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">To cope with this new reality, we have to think in new ways, reprioritize and get creative so we make the most of the resources we have and potentially figure out how to make do with less.</span> <p>Updated: Wed Apr 15, 2020</p> 9e02271b6571a438a22d97f5c1bd78c0 Short on Cash? Carefully Consider Your Options for 04/08/2020 Wed, 08 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I find myself in the unfortunate position of needing some cash in the midst of this horrible pandemic and the resulting market decline. I have a small emergency fund, but that's not enough. What's the best way to generate additional cash? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: First, congratulations on having a rainy day fund. Even if it's not enough, simply having a savings account shows you're planning ahead. Emergency savings are your first and best line of defense. But sometimes when it rains, it pours, and in really tough times, you can be left short of what you need. Let's talk about some options. <p>Updated: Wed Apr 08, 2020</p> f946875a9e193251b371d94cb3891697 Should I Change My Investment Strategy? for 04/01/2020 Wed, 01 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: My husband and I plan to retire in the next five years or so. He thinks we should move away from stocks because they're too risky, especially given all the recent market volatility. I don't want to miss out on the potential for gains once the markets straighten out. What are your thoughts? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: It's a fair question. While it will be several years before you'll need to rely on your investments for your retirement "paycheck," a bear market can quickly wipe out years of savings and investment gains, as we've recently experienced. On the other hand, once things turn around, a bull market can boost your ability to spend. <p>Updated: Wed Apr 01, 2020</p>