Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 26 Jun 2019 06:47:12 -0700 Ask Carrie from Creators Syndicate c9dee121311bfdd9c3d19733378f596e Is Your Wedding Your Top Financial Goal? for 06/26/2019 Wed, 26 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: While there's a lot of talk about how millennials are creating their own wedding traditions &#8212; from cotton candy bouquets to movie-themed ceremonies &#8212; there's one thing that seems to be a constant: the high cost. According to The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study, the national average for a wedding (without the honeymoon) is now $33,931. (That's more than double what it's estimated to have cost in 1990.) Granted, costs can vary dramatically across the country, and these numbers may be a bit skewed because of a small number of extraordinarily expensive weddings, but unless a couple chooses to elope &#8212; and apparently, elopement ceremonies are on the rise &#8212; somebody has to pick up today's very significant tab. </p> <p>Traditionally, the bride's parents would foot most of the bill, but that tradition is also changing as couples wait longer to get married and take charge of the planning as well as the payment. So before a couple deals with the everyday financials of married life, they can be faced with the enormous financial challenge of covering the wedding itself. <p>Updated: Wed Jun 26, 2019</p> eb7977f8107023d56d547969ec7b016c A Father's Day Financial Checklist for New Dads (and Moms) for 06/19/2019 Wed, 19 Jun 2019 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, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.</p> <p>But take heart. Yes, it's true that the USDA estimates that it can take about $235,000 to raise a child from birth to age 17. But keep in mind 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: Thu Jun 20, 2019</p> 71b4f1204854643fb69757c086bd41b9 Top 10 Financial To-Do's for Today's Grads for 06/12/2019 Wed, 12 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p></p><p>Dear Readers: This is always an exciting time of year, as new grads &#8212; and their parents &#8212; anticipate the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. And apparently, there are lots of opportunities when it comes to employment. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Class of 2019 Student Survey, the job market for new grads is the best it's been since 2007. That's good news for young people starting out in an increasingly complex financial world. <p>Updated: Wed Jun 12, 2019</p> 63932031352dbbbeb3a1f02d578c82d8 2019 Modern Wealth Survey Results Are In. How Do You Stack Up? for 06/05/2019 Wed, 05 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Every year about this time, Schwab conducts a survey that takes a close look at how Americans view wealth and manage their money. I've long been fascinated by the complicated relationship that we have with money and how that impacts our ability to make smart financial decisions, so to me, this survey is a gold mine of information. Comprised of questions ranging from "What most influences your spending decisions?" to "What would you do with a windfall of $1 million?" the survey reveals both the good and not-so-good ways we deal with our money. And I think it provides food for thought for everyone.</p> <p>The Saver/Spender Conundrum<p>Updated: Wed Jun 05, 2019</p> 3cc70df8b235b8c662761a79b3255429 What Do Military Vets Need to Know About Their Finances? for 05/29/2019 Wed, 29 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: My son joined the Army right out of high school with the idea of a military career. After 12 years and two tours of duty, he's decided to return to civilian life. I've been reading that vets can face financial problems once they're on their own. Can you share your thoughts on the ways he can get a firm financial footing? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: Making any type of career change has its financial challenges, but the obstacles &#8212; financial and otherwise &#8212; that many veterans face as they re-enter civilian life go beyond the ordinary. And it's not only veterans that have financial concerns. According to the 2018 Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle survey, family financial health is one of the top concerns among active service members and military spouses as well. <p>Updated: Wed May 29, 2019</p> b09bcdc36c619a599b6f5e30cb8463c1 Navigating the World of Student Loans for 05/22/2019 Wed, 22 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm collegebound and beginning to look at financing options. Given the sometimes alarming headlines about student-debt levels, should I be worried about overextending myself? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: The headlines are indeed alarming:<p>Updated: Wed May 22, 2019</p> e62bd1464350633dc33a039de5dfca57 What Money Values Are You Passing on to Your Kids? for 05/15/2019 Wed, 15 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Mother's Day has me feeling a bit wistful about the fact that my kids are now in their 20s, and like so many of us, I wonder where the time has gone. As I've been thinking about what it is to be a mom, I've been doing some soul-searching about what I've tried to teach my kids and why. I've often written about the importance of financial education and starting money lessons with your kids early on, but today, I'd like to explore a little deeper. </p> <p>To me, financial education is more than just the ability to deal with the practical economic realities of life. It starts with the underlying values that are ultimately going to help our children grow into productive, independent, caring adults. So as I've been reflecting on what I want for my own children, I've been thinking of the values that I've tried to pass on to them &#8212; as they were passed on to me from my parents and grandparents. <p>Updated: Wed May 15, 2019</p> 501a784f543348d12be627f141e84cb8 Saving for College: What's the Difference Between a 529 Plan and Custodial Account? for 05/08/2019 Wed, 08 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: As a relatively new parent, I'm confused about the best way to save for my son's college. He's only 3 years old, but I want to get started now. What would you suggest? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: First, let me say you're smart to start thinking about saving while your son is still so young. As parents, we have a lot of financial obligations, and paying for college is one of the toughest of all. According to the College Board College Cost Calculator, a child born this year may need more than $222,000 to attend a four-year in-state public university, based on current published tuition, fees, room and board and the assumption of a 5 percent increase in inflation. Private schools may cost almost twice that much. You may not have to pay nearly that much, but there's just no getting around it: College is expensive.<p>Updated: Wed May 08, 2019</p> 4c2a2eef55ead1ef3760e4e043ef042a Can You Roll Over a Roth 401(k) to a Roth IRA? for 05/01/2019 Wed, 01 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: I'm 56 and have both a traditional and a Roth 401(k). Right now, I contribute the maximum to my Roth each year. I plan to roll the Roth 401(k) into a Roth IRA before I'm 70 1/2 to avoid having to take an RMD. Two questions: Do I need to open a Roth IRA five years prior to the rollover to meet the five-year rule? And can I contribute to a Roth IRA even though I max out my Roth 401(k)? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: I rarely get questions regarding a Roth 401(k) rollover, but as this type of retirement plan becomes more widely available, I'm sure more and more people will be looking for similar answers. So, thanks for asking!<p>Updated: Wed May 01, 2019</p> 804f84a0e03c175d34b6f1d036425142 Getting a Tax Refund? Here Are Five Smart Ways to Use It for 04/24/2019 Wed, 24 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: The new tax law has caused a lot of confusion about tax refunds. On the one hand, early filing data indicated smaller refunds, but then a Feb. 28 Treasury Department report stated that four weeks into the filing season, refunds were actually up 1.3% compared to last year. </p> <p>But to me, whether your own refund is larger or smaller this year, the underlying question is whether getting a tax refund is fundamentally a good thing. Of course, I understand that a lot of people look forward to getting a refund. Getting money rather than shelling it out always feels like a plus. But look a little closer. If you're getting a refund, the fact is that you had too much withheld and overpaid your taxes during the previous year. In other words, <span class="column--highlighted-text">you gave Uncle Sam an interest-free loan with money that could have been in your own pocket</span>. <p>Updated: Wed Apr 24, 2019</p> c9846d1617ebd4ca1448fd7fa037f104 Women and Social Security: Are You Maximizing Your Benefits? for 04/17/2019 Wed, 17 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p></p><p>Dear Readers: Lately, I've been getting a lot of questions from women wondering about their Social Security options. While many are workingwomen who qualify for benefits on their own work records, they're curious about spousal benefits and whether they're a viable choice. I'm not surprised. The Social Security system is complex. Spousal (and ex-spousal) benefits may be one of the least understood aspects of all. Plus, rule changes that went into effect in 2015 eliminated some of the spousal benefit strategies that many couples had relied on. <p>Updated: Wed Apr 17, 2019</p> e025d63c27c9d2a682b304b1d198a98c Teaching Your Kids About Money? Here Are Five Life Lessons That Can Help for 04/10/2019 Wed, 10 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p></p><p>Dear Readers: Most of us think of April as tax time, but did you know that April is also Financial Literacy Month? While it's not something we go out and celebrate, it is certainly worth our attention. Officially recognized by the U.S. Senate in 2004, Financial Literacy Month shines a spotlight on the importance of teaching Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits. That may sound a bit lofty, but in reality, it just makes practical sense. And the earlier we start to learn the better off we are. <p>Updated: Wed Apr 10, 2019</p> 5a340b0753fdb3ffdec3c027aad3449c Are You Fooling Yourself When It Comes to Money? for 04/03/2019 Wed, 03 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Playing pranks on someone else is fun, harmless and good for a laugh. But when it comes to money, some folks have a way of fooling themselves into believing they're on top of things &#8212; only to discover later that it's not the case. </p> <p>So, this year, I want to turn the tables and ask you a serious question: Are you being honest with yourself about your finances? You may think so, but I bet there are a few areas where you're cutting yourself some slack. Here are some common rationalizations that can drive you right into a financial bind (then it's no laughing matter).<p>Updated: Wed Apr 03, 2019</p> abd068b7a5f6b3f378c10346e90bda90 Have You Taken Care of Your Estate Planning Basics? for 03/27/2019 Wed, 27 Mar 2019 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 Mar 27, 2019</p> fbcdd32d9b76542f43409514076cf126 Tax Basics: What's Your Tax IQ? for 03/20/2019 Wed, 20 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>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. </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 Mar 20, 2019</p> b4dd2352721661c1cbbcd109b595e56d How to Talk to Your Girls (and Boys) About Money for 03/13/2019 Wed, 13 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Recently, I've focused a lot on the challenges women often face in securing their financial future. In spite of the advances women have made, they still face personal, cultural and social hurdles when it comes to dealing with money. So, you can imagine how pleased I was to see the theme for this year's International Women's Day, celebrated on March 8: #BalanceforBetter, calling for a more gender-balanced world economically, socially and politically.</p> <p>Don't get me wrong. Women have come a long way. It still takes me by surprise that it wasn't until 1974 that women in the U.S. were able to open credit card accounts in their own names without a male co-signer. And before 1980, a man was able to take out a second mortgage on a jointly owned home without his wife's knowledge. That's hard to fathom in today's world. Today, women are taking charge on many fronts. In fact, Women's History Month, also celebrated in March, makes a point of honoring women who have played a role in shaping our nation in the fields of science, politics, the environment, the arts and so much more. <p>Updated: Wed Mar 13, 2019</p> 909b89bab0dc3e31c90a175dc7620b6b Are You Prepared for a Financial Emergency? for 03/06/2019 Wed, 06 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: What would happen if you were hit with an unexpected medical bill or layoff or your adult son or daughter needed a quick loan to get out of a financial jam? According to the Federal Reserve's 2017 Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households, 40 percent of respondents said they wouldn't be able to cover a $400 emergency expense. Nearly 80 percent of American workers say they live paycheck to paycheck.</p> <p>To draw attention and support for the millions of Americans who find themselves in a similarly precarious financial situation, the consumer organization America Saves has declared Feb. 25 to March 2, 2019, America Saves Week. As a financial professional, I fully support America Saves' efforts and would like to take this opportunity to offer some practical advice to you &#8212; or to anyone you know who is facing a savings shortfall. <p>Updated: Wed Mar 06, 2019</p> 47a78a84552713edf060e478e59c62e8 Does It Still Make Sense to Itemize Deductions? for 02/27/2019 Wed, 27 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: With the April 15th tax deadline coming up quickly, I'm getting questions from readers who are still trying to decide whether or not to itemize their tax deductions for 2018. Some are puzzling over the new itemization rules; some are wondering if itemizing is still worth the effort.</p> <p>While many people may be worried that they have to rethink their approach to tax filing this year &#8212; and it is important to understand how the new tax rules affect you &#8212; in some ways, this year's tax preparation may be simpler for a lot of folks. Here's why.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 27, 2019</p> 4cccdc18e23aaefb8c96577e23980447 Can Finance and Romance Go Hand in Hand? for 02/20/2019 Wed, 20 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Carrie: My fiance and I are in our late 30s, and this will be the first marriage for both of us. As we make plans for the future, one of my concerns is that we haven't spent much time talking about our finances. I know money differences are a big cause of marital problems. What can we do to avoid this? &#8212; A Reader</p> <p>Dear Reader: While money may not seem romantic, understanding your feelings about money can be an important part of keeping your love alive. So I'm happy to share my thoughts on how couples can keep finance from ruining their romance.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 20, 2019</p> 19fdcffe2c68d534265f2627a035822e Is Your Mother, Wife, Daughter Investing? Are You? for 02/13/2019 Wed, 13 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: My last two columns have focused on what are, to me, two very important topics: the importance of investing and how investing in a 401(k) is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to get started. Historical statistics and personal experience with all types of investors leave me with no doubt that, over time, investing in stocks can be one of the best ways to grow wealth and achieve financial security. </p> <p>"OK," you may say, "I get it." But a recent Schwab financial literacy survey of the money attitudes of young adults demonstrated that there's one group that still has a long way to go in "getting it" &#8212; women. And this, as you might imagine, disturbs me greatly. <p>Updated: Wed Feb 13, 2019</p>