Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sun, 01 Aug 2021 09:48:26 -0700 Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate 8624b0a6670e42d51952dd8da3df746a Can You Spend Money on Fun Without Feeling Guilty? for 07/28/2021 Wed, 28 Jul 2021 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 Jul 28, 2021</p> 961141b443f50af4f164747a61db4631 Is It Time to Declutter Your Finances? for 07/21/2021 Wed, 21 Jul 2021 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 Jul 21, 2021</p> a7544d1370783d2c6ae4cdafdea08be6 Have You Taken Care of Your Estate Planning Basics? for 07/14/2021 Wed, 14 Jul 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: My husband and I are in our early 40s with two young kids. We know we should have some sort of estate plan, but it seems like such a chore. Any way to keep it simple? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: You're certainly not alone in putting off estate planning. On top of our understandable aversion to facing our own mortality, estate planning conjures up images of mind-boggling detail, long hours with an attorney and high cost. But for most people, creating a basic estate plan can be pretty simple in terms of paperwork. The hard part comes in forcing ourselves to do the upfront thinking and get organized. <p>Updated: Wed Jul 14, 2021</p> 1ff4422fe076463d0de86e8267d888d8 Should You Tap Your 401(k) to Fund Your Down Payment? for 07/07/2021 Wed, 07 Jul 2021 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 07, 2021</p> 3a7532e36e206510e8e954a7a9327be5 Need to Adjust Your Financial Attitude? Start Here -- Now! for 06/30/2021 Wed, 30 Jun 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><i> Dear Carrie: I'm 28 and trying to be smart about my money. My problem is that as soon as I pay down my credit cards, I start running them up again. The result is I can't seem to save, and I feel as if I'm fighting a losing battle. I know I need to adjust my financial attitude, but how? &#8212; A Reader </i></p> <p>Dear Reader: First, realize that you're not fighting a losing battle. The very fact that you see the problem and want to do something about it means you're already starting on the solution. And you're correct that it is a matter of attitude &#8212; because if you start now to think and act positively, you'll be able to not only control your current debt but also get started on saving and investing for the future.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 30, 2021</p> 4b12fcd5a015b9576f8a6e88e37a3e89 Are Your Kids' Extracurricular Activities Straining Your Budget? for 06/23/2021 Wed, 23 Jun 2021 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 Jun 23, 2021</p> 715d069e5ea4a95fbeca9a6abab6a280 Will Collecting a Public Pension Reduce Your Social Security? for 06/16/2021 Wed, 16 Jun 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p><i> Dear Carrie, I'm retiring soon with a pension that's outside of the Social Security system. I've also earned enough credits from earlier employment to qualify for Social Security benefits. I know my benefits will be reduced because of Windfall Elimination/Pension Offset reductions. Are there any strategies to minimize these reductions? Is there any reason to delay filing for Social Security? If it matters, my wife is also eligible for benefits under her own work record. &#8212; A Reader </i></p> <p>Dear Reader, This is a tough question to answer, primarily because the Windfall Elimination Provision/Government Pension Offset rules present one of the more technical areas of Social Security planning. The formulas determining reductions are complex, and a lot depends on your individual situation. </p> <p>So my first recommendation is to consult with a financial advisor or accountant who specializes in Social Security benefits. While it is not possible to avoid the WEP/GPO reductions, there are things for you to consider regarding the best time to apply for benefits, so it is important to understand your options. Before we get into those specifics, however, let's first review the basics of both the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset. <p>Updated: Wed Jun 16, 2021</p> beda4c03f4768eae102564eb06ba3335 Women and Retirement: Can You Afford Not to Save? for 06/09/2021 Wed, 09 Jun 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>ASK CARRIE</p> <p>BY CARRIE SCHWAB-POMERANTZ<p>Updated: Wed Jun 09, 2021</p> df71c2ad9eecd4f88957812c80aaaa93 How Much Should You Be Saving? for 06/02/2021 Wed, 02 Jun 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">Dear Carrie: I am turning 30 and know that I need to get serious about saving. How much should I be setting aside? &#8212; A Reader</span><br></p> <p>Dear Reader: Thank you for this question. The future can seem so far away &#8212; and the path to that future so unsure &#8212; that it can be difficult to know exactly how much to save or even to find the motivation to get started. The reality, though, is that the earlier we start to save &#8212; whether it's for retirement or other goals &#8212; the less difficult the challenge becomes.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 02, 2021</p> 500e4ac5c3135937e6d2e1faba6a97bb Tax Basics: What's Your Tax IQ? for 05/26/2021 Wed, 26 May 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">Dear Readers: It's tax time again, and I'm getting lots of questions, especially from young people facing tax bills for the first time. Understandably, they want to know how they can reduce their taxes. And I'm glad they're asking because, while it's easy to rely on tax software or have a professional do your taxes, I think it's important to have an understanding of the basics.</span><br></p> <p>What to report? What not to? Should I take the standard deduction or itemize? If you understand these things, it will help you ask smart questions and make sure you're taking advantage of legitimate breaks. <p>Updated: Wed May 26, 2021</p> 6c549b80577bc3773a7606f83f19f1fa Elder Fraud: When Someone You Trust Betrays You for 05/19/2021 Wed, 19 May 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">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.</span><br></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% of seniors are affected by exploitation in any given year. They lose at least $2.9 billion annually.<p>Updated: Wed May 19, 2021</p> ec3c824ad040e41c24ff0dc3278c5723 Is Your Teen Financially Fit? for 05/12/2021 Wed, 12 May 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Parents of Teens: The pandemic has changed our everyday reality in so many ways &#8212; financially, educationally and socially. Money may be tighter. Kids may be doing online school. And we're all spending a lot more time at home. But for all the changes in our lives, according to a recent Schwab survey, there's one thing that hasn't changed for a lot of people: the importance we place on financial education. In fact, parents who took the survey rated money management as the most important skill for their kids to learn &#8212; outranking health and wellness education as a supplementary graduation requirement to math, English and science. </p> <p>So, where do kids get this crucial education? Schools are getting better. Twenty-one states now require high school students to take a personal finance course. That's a start, but there's a lot more work to be done. Here's where you as a parent can help fill in the gaps.<p>Updated: Wed May 12, 2021</p> e70b43de44b0196545fbbf510c6ce99a Mother's Day Tips for Teaching Your Kids About Money for 05/05/2021 Wed, 05 May 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">Dear Readers: Moms these days can fill a lot of roles &#8212; from nutritionist to chauffeur to nurse to counselor. We're called on to be experts in everything from caring for physical wounds to healing broken hearts. On top of that, many of us hold down full-time jobs! Now I'm going to add one more responsibility to the list: financial coach.</span><br></p> <p>Think you don't have time to add one more thing to your busy schedule? Actually, you might be surprised at how much financial knowledge you already impart to your kids just in the everyday things you do. After all, kids are always watching and learning from us &#8212; even when we're unaware of it. So my thought is that when it comes to money, a little conscious awareness on the parts of moms &#8212; and dads &#8212; can make the financial lessons we teach our kids that much more effective. <p>Updated: Wed May 05, 2021</p> 3d6a203a05cbd6d4a9c3ce9ef0a4bc05 How Can the American Rescue Plan Act Help Your Family? for 04/28/2021 Wed, 28 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: With most eligible individuals having already received their $1,400 stimulus payment, it's easy to overlook some of the other benefits of the recent American Rescue Plan. Of course, the extra money upfront will make a significant difference to many struggling families. And even if you're caught up on your bills, these economic impact payments could be a welcome boost to your emergency fund or your investments. </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has a number of additional benefits for families that I want to highlight. Even if some don't apply to you, you might be able to pass the information on to family and friends who could take advantage of them.</span> Here are some I think are worth noting.<p>Updated: Wed Apr 28, 2021</p> e8567113a54cc60d04b4134067ef04d6 How Can I Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck? for 04/21/2021 Wed, 21 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm a single mom with a decent income, but I'm always living paycheck to paycheck. How can I break that cycle and start to save, not only for an emergency but also for my bigger goals like retirement and maybe even a home? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: Living paycheck to paycheck isn't uncommon these days. Recent studies suggest many Americans are doing just that, which makes it next to impossible to save and invest. Overspending can be part of the problem, but even more often, people get squeezed through no fault of their own &#8212; low wages, unpredictable income and high costs for essentials like childcare, health care, housing and college. On the other hand, even people with high incomes can find themselves caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle. <p>Updated: Wed Apr 21, 2021</p> bee87feede9f9231ba12260bc3f63bcc Money Myths: 10 Ways We Fool Ourselves About Managing Credit for 04/14/2021 Wed, 14 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: April Fools' Day can make for a good joke, but there are certain myths about money that, if not dispelled quickly, are no laughing matter. Misconceptions about credit and debt are right at the top of the list. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Here are 10 common beliefs about credit that can lead to financial trouble.</span> Don't fall for them! </p> <p>Myth No. 1: A Credit Score Is Only Important if You Need to Borrow Money.<p>Updated: Wed Apr 14, 2021</p> 16f44c9ae035f0a043b2b5120cb2963a What Farmers Can Teach Us About Finances for 04/07/2021 Wed, 07 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: In the fast-paced financial world we live in, with its focus on trading trends, online platforms and market movements, it's easy to get lost in the weeds and lose sight of the grounding principles of managing money that are essential to long-term success. So with spring in the air and buds on the vine, I thought it would be fun to focus on some of the financial lessons we can learn from the people who are more in touch with the land. </p> <p>If you've had any experience on a farm, you'll know what I'm talking about. For instance, my father learned the reality of the phrase "don't put all your eggs in one basket" in his first business venture: literally selling eggs when he was a young teen in Sacramento. He had a firsthand understanding of this lesson by the time he got into investing! Read on for some other words of wisdom that get to the heart of smart money management, from those who work the land &#8212; both folklore and a couple of well-known commentators. It might give you some new insights as well as a few smiles.<p>Updated: Wed Apr 07, 2021</p> 65a7cb475e43909cf12190d088b05c04 As You Build Your Financial Future, Heed the Advice of Richard Thaler for 03/31/2021 Wed, 31 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: I've been promoting the tried-and-true principles of smart money management for so many years it can be hard to come up with fresh ways to share their important message: Spend less. Save more. Diversify your portfolio as you invest for your long-term goals. As old-fashioned as this advice may sound, it remains the foundation for your future financial success. </p> <p>But if you still need convincing, I invite you to listen to the wisdom of prominent behavioral economist and Nobel laureate Richard Thaler. One of my colleagues had the opportunity to sit down with professor Thaler early this year and asked him the following question: "As individuals, what lessons can we take from 2020 as we strive to build a strong future?"<p>Updated: Thu Apr 01, 2021</p> f3fc71817e7cb2549bb873838ab394b6 New Financial Survey on Black Americans Is a Call to Action for 03/24/2021 Wed, 24 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: In the last 15 years writing "Ask Carrie" columns, I've often written about why and how investing opens the door to financial freedom. In my mind, the advice &#8212; and the opportunity &#8212; should be available to everyone. Unfortunately, for too many Black Americans, that's not the case.</p> <p>As a country, we've started to have some important conversations that are long overdue. Racial inequality and the resulting wealth gap are not only disastrous for the impacted individuals; they also weaken our communities and our economy. <p>Updated: Wed Mar 24, 2021</p> 055790768583b7500c7f5b22621e3e4d Let's Focus on Single Women for 03/17/2021 Wed, 17 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: As has happened for over a century, countries around the globe came together this month to celebrate women and promote a gender-equal world. Dubbed International Women's Day, it's a special occasion to not only acknowledge women's vast and significant contributions but also challenge ongoing inequities and plan for a future that provides women with opportunities, respect and stature equal to that of men.</p> <p>The theme for this year's celebration was #ChooseToChallenge, with a focus on our individual responsibility to call out and challenge injustices. The organizers rightly point out that "a challenged world is an alert world" and "from challenge comes change."<p>Updated: Wed Mar 17, 2021</p>