Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 18 Jan 2019 13:39:53 -0800 Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate cfa67b770f8b11d2bab30df7a6171b5e Baby On the Way: Are You Ready for Your New Financial Reality? for 01/16/2019 Wed, 16 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: We're expecting our first child soon and are trying to get financially prepared. We know college is high on the list, but that's so far in the future. What about now? What should we focus on first? &#8212; A Reader </p> <p>Dear Reader: Having a baby brings up a lot of financial questions &#8212; for the present, for the future and for all those years in between. Because there's no doubt about it: Raising a child is a costly proposition. The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate it will cost the average middle-income family about $233,610 to raise a child to age 17 ($284,570 if you adjust for 2.2 percent estimated annual inflation) &#8212; before college! Think that's over the top? Check the USDA website to do your own calculation.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 16, 2019</p> 78e6056c4ec6f514058e10771231cd76 10 Financial Resolutions to Make -- and Keep -- Year After Year for 01/09/2019 Wed, 09 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Do you make the same financial resolutions every year? When it comes to your money, that may actually be a good thing! Keeping on top of your finances requires many of the same actions year after year. Sure, your goals may change, but the steps to actually achieve them don't vary all that much. </p> <p>So if you kept last year's financial resolutions, that's great. Now, make them again. Need a nudge? Here are 10 resolutions worth renewing this year &#8212; and every year.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 09, 2019</p> 7f6cf004afad0afe160023ac7f2ab630 10 Resolutions for a Happy Financial New Year for 01/02/2019 Wed, 02 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p><i> Dear Readers: Do you make the same New Year's resolutions year after year? When it comes to financial resolutions, that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, each year can present financial challenges and changes that require you to take a fresh look at your finances and make sure you're still on target to meet your goals.</p> <p>So whether you feel you're on fairly solid economic ground or you know you need to be more disciplined, here's my top-10 list of financial resolutions. Check off the ones you've completed, recommit to those you still need to keep and resolve to make 2019 your soundest financial year yet. </i></p> <p>1. Get your financial bearings. Start the new year by either creating or updating your personal "net worth" statement. Write down the value of everything you own &#8212; savings and investment accounts, car, home, business interests and personal property. Then list all your debts &#8212; mortgage, car loan, credit card balances and student loans. Subtract what you owe from what you own to get your net worth. This gives you the big picture from which you can plan your next steps. It also provides a baseline so you can monitor your progress throughout the year.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 02, 2019</p> 0ed0b9b328c4a20b6c84aa0aac85596e Does Working Past Age 70 Affect Your Social Security Benefits? for 12/26/2018 Wed, 26 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm turning 70 and about to start collecting Social Security, even though I'm still working and intend to keep working for a couple more years. Since I'm past full retirement age, will I continue to pay Social Security taxes? Also, will continuing to work affect my monthly benefit? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: First, congratulations on waiting until 70 to collect your Social Security benefits. By doing so, you maximized your monthly payout. That's a smart move for many folks! <p>Updated: Wed Dec 26, 2018</p> 21ccca79b6a5e04b292a984c5ee72e33 Why Not Make a Gift of Financial Education This Season? for 12/19/2018 Wed, 19 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: In the spirit of the holidays, I've been writing a lot lately about giving &#8212; especially how to make your charitable contributions go further. Well, here's a suggestion that's particularly close to my heart: providing teachers with the resources they need to bring financial education into their classrooms. </p> <p>Charles Schwab Foundation is now partnering with to do that very thing. What I like about this opportunity is that it's very personal. Teachers across the country identify projects and resources they would like funded, and individual donors can specify which project they want to support and how much they're able to contribute. And you can do it all on the website.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 19, 2018</p> 7cf1b9758dfe14d608d4e4232f16e9d0 Are You Making the Most of Your Charitable Donations? for 12/12/2018 Wed, 12 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: When it comes to charitable giving, the holidays can sometimes challenge your feelings of generosity. Yes, it's the season of sharing, but it can also be overwhelming as you're approached by an increasing number of organizations asking for donations. How do you decide which causes to support? Plus, if you're concerned about getting a tax deduction for your contribution, the higher standard deduction established by the new tax law makes this a little more difficult.</p> <p>So how do you make the most of your charitable contributions? You have to be strategic. Whether your donations are large or small, here are some ways to give meaningfully while staying true to your budget and to yourself &#8212; and possibly get a tax break, too.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 12, 2018</p> 6842c6d5b9372225c4133e948f1cbf7e Can I Give Stock as a Gift? for 12/05/2018 Wed, 05 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I would like to gift a portion of my stock to my daughter. Do I have to sell it first, or can I simply gift it in the amount allowed this year? Also I want her to hold on to it until she retires or has a real need for the money. Is that possible? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: This is an excellent and somewhat complicated question because it deals with several issues: capital gains taxes, gift tax rules and financial control. I could probably write a complete column &#8212; or even a book &#8212; on the intricacies of each! So while I can't go into a lot of detail here, I can give you some general guidelines with the caveat that you really should talk to your financial advisor, tax professional and perhaps even your estate planning attorney before making your gift. <p>Updated: Wed Dec 05, 2018</p> 41d7ddb41de7ea2fbb014ed4057dde84 If One of You Makes More, Can You Still Be Financial Equals? for 11/28/2018 Wed, 28 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: We've been married for two years, and so far, my husband and I have pretty much split bills down the middle. That's about to change as I become a full-time graduate student with limited income. I'm used to being a financial equal and am worried that I'm going to feel too dependent. How can we avoid this? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: Great question, and one that has as much to do with your values as a couple as it does with your finances. Financial equality in a marriage doesn't always mean that you contribute the same amount of money, but that you respect each other and choose to work as a team, no matter who's on first financially.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 28, 2018</p> 056a1ac27a5e0df3afd93d152efb4142 Five Ways to Make Giving a Family Affair This Holiday Season for 11/21/2018 Wed, 21 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: I've been talking a lot about young people and financial education lately, but there's one thing I haven't discussed recently that I think is an important part of everyone's financial lives: giving. Now, with Thanksgiving just ahead and Giving Tuesday coming right after, I want to share some ideas on how to introduce your kids to the importance of philanthropy and get the whole family involved in giving this season. </p> <p>To me, saving and giving go hand in hand. As you teach your kids to manage their money and save a certain percentage for their future goals, it's a natural extension to also encourage them to earmark some of their money for a charitable cause. And what better time than the holidays to focus on how to share our own good fortune? <p>Updated: Wed Nov 21, 2018</p> 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>