Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Thu, 15 Nov 2018 03:44:07 -0800 Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate c476f4d0a8ff3bbeaae1fe1cbd8ffb6f Elder Fraud: When Someone You Trust Betrays You for 11/14/2018 Wed, 14 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Lately, I've been thinking a lot about all the seniors in this country who've been financially exploited. Friends have told me stories about grandparents who've been wiped out by fraud, and I've also heard from adult children who've been cut out of their parent's will when a new "sweetheart" comes along. I get angry every time I hear these stories. </p> <p>What makes the situation so alarming is how widespread this problem is. According to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission report, between 2.7 and 6.6 percent of seniors are affected by exploitation in any given year. They lose at least $2.9 billion annually.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 14, 2018</p> cbaa0299bb56d25b1c73699f5c100517 10 Easy Ways to Waste Your Money. Scared Yet? for 11/07/2018 Wed, 07 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: No matter how conscientious you may try to be, certain money wasters can creep up on you. Some may be staring you in the face, but others can be lurking in the shadows just waiting to snatch some of your hard-earned cash. Best to be forewarned. Review these 10 scary (and very common!) money wasters now so you won't be taken by surprise.</p> <p>1. Credit Card Interest and Late Fees. While credit cards make life easier, they can also be a big drain if you don't watch out. Do you carry a balance month to month? <span class="column--highlighted-text">Are you sometimes late on your payments? Interest rates and late fees can add up quickly and result in paying considerably more for your purchases over time.</span><p>Updated: Wed Nov 07, 2018</p> 8d0c00087bd0e14a287ea956acd51043 Are Young Men and Women Getting the Same Financial Start? for 10/31/2018 Wed, 31 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers:</p> <p>This week, I have a couple of questions for you. First, do you believe that young men and women should have equal financial opportunities? And second, do you think young men and women should get the same financial education about money management, saving and investing? I imagine your answer would be "Of course!" And I certainly agree. <p>Updated: Wed Oct 31, 2018</p> 33d593fd8f32c127b39afa2e8a0f4d4b Should You Have a Separate 529 Account for Each Child? for 10/24/2018 Wed, 24 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: My wife and I just had our second child. We already have a 529 plan for our 2 1/2-year-old son. Can we continue to make contributions to our current plan and distribute the savings to both of our children's college funds? Or should we have separate 529 plans for each child and make contributions to each plan? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: The tax advantages of a 529 plan make it one of the best ways to save for a child's education, so congrats on getting a jump on saving for your son. Now that you have a second child, I can understand why it might seem easier to manage a single 529 and just divvy up the money as the kids need it. But while that's technically possible, having one 529 rather than a separate account for each child actually complicates things. Here's why:<p>Updated: Wed Oct 24, 2018</p> ea7738611e68c6a52ecef4b5e08c76d4 Which Side of the Retirement Savings Statistics Are You On? for 10/17/2018 Wed, 17 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers:</p> <p>Have you heard of National Retirement Security Week? If not, it's definitely worth your attention. This specially designated week, established in 2006 and celebrated this year from Oct. 21 to 27, is a national effort to raise people's awareness about the importance of saving for retirement. <p>Updated: Wed Oct 17, 2018</p> 9d541fedc07be9d3cd74ea62a6f29234 Do Your Folks Have an Advance Health Care Directive? Do You? for 10/10/2018 Wed, 10 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm trying to help my parents, who are in their late 60s, with estate planning. They're okay talking about the financial part, but they're reluctant to deal with the possibility of a serious medical issue. They say they're not that old yet! How can I nudge them along? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: With people living longer and healthier lives, it's not surprising that your parents are avoiding talking about the possibility of a serious medical issue. They'd probably rather plan their next trip. But now is exactly the time &#8212; when they're clearheaded and feeling good &#8212; that they should be thinking about it. <p>Updated: Wed Oct 10, 2018</p> 87c331efb1acafd17ad49e4e55297178 It's Open Enrollment: Are You Making the Most of Your Employee Benefits? for 10/03/2018 Wed, 03 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers:</p> <p>It's open enrollment time, and I have a question for you: Are you taking full advantage of your employee benefits? To me, employee benefits play a significant part in your financial life and staying on top of what's offered is as important as staying on top of your investments.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 03, 2018</p> c09403c3de29be3f888fa2a5dd6cae9c How Risky Is It to Buy Cryptocurrency? for 09/26/2018 Wed, 26 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I was at a dinner party recently, and several of my friends were talking about how much money they had made on bitcoin. I'm thinking about investing in cryptocurrency too, but I'm concerned about the risks. What do you think? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader,<p>Updated: Wed Sep 26, 2018</p> 3f02eb4913c535ff6fc1594ee7edff03 At What Age Should You Collect a Social Security Spousal Benefit? for 09/19/2018 Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: I recently received two questions about collecting Social Security spousal benefits. Interestingly, each question involved a nonworking spouse who wasn't eligible to collect on their own. The difference in the questions had to do with the relative ages of the spouses and the timing for beginning to collect the spousal benefit.</p> <p>While you might not think the age of the nonworking spouse would be particularly relevant, it does bring up some issues that couples should be aware of when making the important decision about when each spouse will begin collecting Social Security. Here's an overview of the two situations &#8212; and some things that everyone should consider.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 19, 2018</p> 4a40f6fd19980f85a67b0c40c88b939a How Can I Avoid Scams that Target the Elderly? for 09/12/2018 Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm 72, and I've been hearing a lot lately about scams targeting the elderly. I feel like I'm vigilant and have my guard up, but I still worry that I might fall for one of these schemes. How can I protect myself? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: I'm glad to hear that you're thinking about how to protect yourself. I've heard so many stories from friends and colleagues about family members becoming victims of this kind of exploitation, and it breaks my heart every time. People work hard to earn their money and accumulate wealth, and it's not right that they're getting cheated out of it. <p>Updated: Wed Sep 12, 2018</p> 2e16f59fb55bb88f2f5b7a58516e9d1b 10 Steps to a DIY Financial Plan for 09/05/2018 Wed, 05 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Often when I talk about the importance of a financial plan, I see people start to squirm. There's something about the topic that makes them uncomfortable. When I dig a little deeper to find out why, two reasons regularly come up: Either people don't think they have enough money to warrant a financial plan or they think a financial plan costs too much. And no matter how often I try to debunk these myths, it's hard to change someone's preconception.</p> <p>It's a challenge for sure, but I'm such a firm believer that everyone needs a financial plan that I'm going to give it another try by showing you how you can actually be your own financial planner. It doesn't require that you have a lot of money &#8212; and it doesn't have to cost you a penny. If you're willing to spend a little time, you can actually do it yourself. Here's how.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 05, 2018</p> 57dc1322c2b4d2747e4df31c34a4c95c Tips to Help Young People Turn Financial Optimism Into Positive Action for 08/29/2018 Wed, 29 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: A recent Schwab survey about the money attitudes of young millennials (ages 21 to 25) and members of Generation Z (ages 16 to 20) showed an interesting dichotomy: When it comes to their financial future, today's teens and young adults are both optimistic and unrealistic. I suppose that shouldn't be too surprising. Youth is filled with optimism &#8212; and I love that. But when it comes to managing money, a healthy dose of reality is important in creating a secure financial foundation.</p> <p><p>Updated: Wed Aug 29, 2018</p> c59ffe104a0a310c7b4b443e36d8b88f Own Your Own Business? for 08/15/2018 Wed, 15 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><i> Dear Carrie, I'm 35 and am the sole proprietor of a small business. I've always been a good saver and have put some money in an IRA every year, but I know it's not enough. What else can I be doing? &#8212; A Reader </i></p> <p>Dear Reader, for a sole proprietor, saving for retirement can be more of a challenge because basically it's all up to you. And it's difficult to put those hard-earned dollars toward the future when there's so much to deal with in the present. But you sound like you're already on the right track because you've started to save. You're lucky, too, that you're realizing this at age 35. Because yes, there's definitely more you can be doing, and the sooner the better.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 15, 2018</p> 136682f94d670301c295eeae80947519 No Retirement Savings at 50? for 08/08/2018 Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><i> Dear Carrie, I'm facing my 50th birthday and am embarrassed (and a bit panicked) that I've saved very little for retirement. I have a 401(k) but there's not much in it. What should I do? Is it hopeless? &#8212; A Reader </i> </p> <p>Dear Reader, Your situation isn't hopeless &#8212; nor is it uncommon &#8212; but it certainly should be a wake-up call. Ideally, everyone should begin thinking about retirement with their first paycheck, but the reality is that many people don't start to seriously save (or panic) until much later.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 08, 2018</p> 9f5ee083accb9b634e138e22bef831c6 What's the Best Way to Invest Money Gifts for a New Baby? for 08/01/2018 Wed, 01 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Dear Carrie, We just had our first baby and relatives have given us $1,000 in cash and checks for him. What's the best way to invest it? We thought about a 529 but aren't financially able to make monthly contributions right now. What are some other options? &#8212; A Reader </p> <p></p> <p>Dear Reader, Congratulations all around &#8212; to you on the birth of your first child and to him because he has parents who are already thinking about his financial future. There are several possible options for investing this money, and no matter what you choose to do, $1,000 is a good start. And the sooner you get it growing, the better. Interestingly, my last column was on the power of compound interest. You might check that out for even more affirmation on your decision to get this money working.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 01, 2018</p> f7ad2e7a497248d59c87ab209e624c35 How Can I Explain the Power of Compound Interest to My Teen? for 07/25/2018 Wed, 25 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p><i> Dear Carrie, My 17-year-old daughter has her first summer job with a reasonable salary. To me, this is a great opportunity for her to start saving and realizing the power of compound interest. What's your advice on how to explain that to her? &#8212;A Reader </i></p> <p>Dear Reader, I agree this is a great opportunity for your daughter to start saving &#8212; and the power of compound interest is one of the primary reasons as you suggest. A key factor in compounding is time, and at 17 your daughter has plenty of time to watch her savings grow. Plus, while interest rates have been very low for the past 10 years, they're starting to rise and that can help even a beginning saver see some results.</p> <p>This simple concept of compound interest can sometimes get lost in more complex discussions about investing, but whether you're a saver or an investor, compounding is one of the most powerful engines that drive returns over time. So I appreciate the chance to focus on this essential topic. The challenge for you, of course, is how to get your daughter engaged.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 25, 2018</p> 71c26c565d89e25f64db1bd7741673a0 Is Interest on a HELOC Still Tax-Deductible? for 07/18/2018 Wed, 18 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><i> Dear Carrie, My wife and I have a $500,000 mortgage on our house and now want to tap into our HELOC, partially to renovate the kitchen but also to pay off credit card debt. Under the new tax law, how much mortgage and HELOC debt can we deduct from our taxes? &#8212;A Reader </i></p> <p>Dear Reader, As you might imagine, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created a bit of confusion around the tax-deductibility of mortgage interest in general and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) in particular. <p>Updated: Wed Jul 18, 2018</p> d7049b838ff30a1644ae5a6043ca020b Saving for Retirement: How Much Is Enough? for 06/27/2018 Wed, 27 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p><i> Dear Carrie, I just turned 30 and know that I need to get serious about saving, even for retirement. How much should I be setting aside? &#8212;A Reader </i></p> <p>Dear Reader, It's interesting that you say "even for retirement," because to me, no matter how old you are, retirement should likely be one of your top savings goals. Yes, it's hard to think that way when you're young, and the amount you need can be shocking. But when you really start to crunch the numbers, the truth is that you may need more than you think.</p> <p>The precise amount will depend on where you live and your lifestyle. But an interesting analysis by GoBankingRates that looked at the cost of living in every state estimated that you could need from just under a million to more than $2 million.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 27, 2018</p> e1b30b80b16d54b82576e2f7aa25a156 Can You Contribute to an IRA If You Don't Have a Job? for 06/20/2018 Wed, 20 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p><i> Dear Carrie, Can you put money in an IRA or a Roth IRA if you don't have wage income? &#8212;A Reader </i></p> <p>Dear Reader, Individual Retirement Accounts were introduced in the mid-'70s to help employees save for retirement and reduce their taxable income. So it stands to reason that to make a contribution &#8212; and get the tax benefit &#8212; you'd have to have income from a job. </p> <p>In fact, contributions to both traditional and Roth IRAs can only be made from what the IRS determines to be "earned income" or taxable compensation. However, wages aren't the only form of compensation so let's start by looking at the definition.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 20, 2018</p> 31325c934b12b1f010ba8a4583f4f03b A Father's Day Financial Checklist for New Dads (and Moms) for 06/13/2018 Wed, 13 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Dear Readers, Celebrating Father's Day for the first time can be great fun&#8212;and a little scary. The new responsibilities that go along with the joys of becoming a father can give even the most prepared new dad a moment's pause. And when it comes to providing financially for your new baby, no matter how much money you make it may seem it will never be enough.</p> <p>But take heart. Even though the most recent stats from the USDA estimate it takes a about $235,000 to raise a child from birth to age 17, the good news is that you don't have to come up with that money all at once. With a little forethought and planning now, you can more easily handle the day-to-day needs as well as put your growing family on a path toward financial security.</p> <p>Here are 10 things you can do to make life easier&#8212;and help ease some of your financial worries.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 13, 2018</p>