Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 03 Jun 2020 08:46:54 -0700 Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate 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> 0f7a987d9166a21011a4946a3f485e8b Staying Calm During the Market Storm: 5 Things You Can Do Now for 03/25/2020 Wed, 25 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: The widespread impact of the novel coronavirus has everyone on edge. And while the health and safety of our families and communities is the top concern, I've been hearing from many of you who are taken aback by the resulting market turmoil, and the speed and breadth of the decline. </p> <p>Seeing your portfolio balance drop overnight is worrisome for any investor, especially for newer investors who have only seen the market rise, and for older investors who are near or in retirement. But before you panic, remind yourself that shock and surprise are hallmarks of the stock market. How long will this last? Will things get much worse before they turn around? What's next? No one knows for sure, but there <i> are </i> positive things you can do to keep your investments on track and help you stay cool, calm and collected.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 25, 2020</p> 4b61eb8bb38aa42bab709851fc7106fc What Do Recent Changes to FICO Scores Mean for Me? for 03/18/2020 Wed, 18 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I heard that there are some recent changes to FICO scores. What's different, and how will it affect me? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: FICO scores are odd creatures. We've all heard of them. We may even worry about them, but few of us actually understand what they mean in practice or how they are calculated. And sometimes, as you point out, they can change &#8212; just adding to the confusion. <p>Updated: Wed Mar 18, 2020</p> 2c5a067ef19abe440b20bb7fe048961c Women and Money: Why It's Important to Take Control of Your Finances for 03/11/2020 Wed, 11 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: As you may know, I'm a big champion of financial independence, and the month of March gives me a special opportunity to talk about the importance of women taking control of their finances. Why March? Two reasons. </p> <p>First, the entire month is declared Women's History Month, this year honoring women who have fought and still fight for voter rights. Second, Sunday, March 8, was International Women's Day. Both urge women to engage and work for a more equitable world, whether in politics, business or personal relations.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 11, 2020</p> 3ed21372cf6ac4f461d125f857ecfd1f How Much of Your Income Do You Need to Replace in Retirement? for 03/05/2020 Thu, 05 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Dear Carrie: I've heard that, generally speaking, you can get by on 70-80% of your annual income in retirement. Is that really a reliable estimate? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: A lot of people would certainly sleep better knowing they had enough money to live comfortably in retirement. That's why we have approximations like the 70-80% guideline. They give people an estimate to work toward, which is a step in the right direction.</p> <p>But <span class="column--highlighted-text">a guideline is one thing, and reality can be another</span>. So your question gets right to the heart of the matter: How much of your annual income do you really need to live comfortably in retirement? If only the answer were as simple as the question. <p>Updated: Thu Mar 05, 2020</p> 097b371f38044510c1f04a77bd7275f5 How Can I Invest If I Don't Have Earned Income? for 02/26/2020 Wed, 26 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm an unmarried, 100% disabled veteran. My Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation is my only source of income. Are there any tax-advantaged investment vehicles (besides IRAs) for me to grow my tax-free disability benefits? I have very limited income, but I'd still like to invest in my future. What's the best way for a disabled veteran to build wealth and break the cycle of poverty when we can't take advantage of IRAs or 401(k)s? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: I'm forever thankful and in awe of the tremendous sacrifice that you and so many other veterans have made for this country to protect our many freedoms. Thank you for your service. <p>Updated: Wed Feb 26, 2020</p> 89290c0c8bfbd447b6225404feb6906b Is Health Insurance Worth the Cost? for 02/19/2020 Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I just looked at my health insurance bill, and the monthly premiums are almost as much as my car payment! I'm 23 and in good health. The one time I did need to see the doctor, I still got stuck with a $700 bill! It seems like paying for health insurance is just a waste of my money. Do I really need it? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: I'm empathetic to your plight, and I'm worried about young people and many families who are thinking of skipping health insurance due to the costs. I understand that it can be frustrating if you're faced with big out-of-pocket expenses even if you have coverage. But going without health insurance can be catastrophically expensive. So, yes, you 100 percent need health insurance.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 19, 2020</p> 8ea742fbfa11b6ef539dc2bc6b2955d4 You Trust Your Partner With Your Love. What About Your Money? for 02/12/2020 Wed, 12 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: I recently heard an interesting story about a man who expressed his love for his wife in an unusual way. It wasn't with an extravagant gift or a surprise trip to a tropical island. No, he wrote her a book &#8212; a book about their financial life. </p> <p>While that might not be what you'd choose to give or receive as a Valentine's Day gift, to me it made sense. And not because I'm unromantic. Quite the contrary. I think it was a wonderful gift for the very reason that sharing the details of your financial life is actually very intimate and revealing, and requires absolute trust.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 12, 2020</p> 3889d53d86b78158ab470d0a144278b4 You're Saving. Should You Be Investing, Too? for 02/05/2020 Wed, 05 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I've always been a good saver, and now at 29 with a steady job, I have a fairly sizable savings account. My friends are getting into investing, but it seems like such a risk and makes me uncomfortable. Isn't it enough to just keep saving? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: Being a good saver certainly puts you ahead of the game. And having a solid savings account is an important step toward financial security. So first, congratulations on that. But is saving enough? For some things, yes. For other things, no. While saving is about accumulating money, investing is about growing your money. And that can make a huge difference in your financial future. <p>Updated: Wed Feb 05, 2020</p> 5d912c3076f9749ffd903fe7755ceb56 10 Questions Every Couple Should Ask Before Retiring for 01/29/2020 Wed, 29 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: I often write about the financial conversations couples should have before they decide to spend their lives together. To me, getting to know each other financially is an important part of any relationship. But what about after you've been together for a number of years and you are close to retirement? You may think at this point that you've worked through any money issues. In fact, you may take certain financial things for granted. But retirement is a whole new phase of life. Are you ready to face this together? </p> <p>Even if you've been saving diligently and you feel like you have a handle on savings, retirement can bring up fundamental lifestyle issues that can have a profound effect on your finances as well as your relationship. So <span class="column--highlighted-text">I believe it's as important now to have a frank and soul-searching conversation with your partner about your goals and financial attitudes as it was when you started out together.</span> <p>Updated: Wed Jan 29, 2020</p> a912b1a7a1286780cb4af8beeff7101b Financial Literacy: A Powerful Tool for Social Justice in 2020 and Beyond for 01/22/2020 Wed, 22 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear readers: Today I'm departing from my usual format to share with you my greatest wish for the new year and the next decade: that as a nation, we will come together to unleash the tremendous power of financial literacy.</p> <p>When asked about financial literacy, most people think of a classroom with lessons in budgeting, credit and debt, and perhaps even an introduction to investing. And they're right &#8212; a financial literacy course can teach all of that.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 22, 2020</p>