Helaine Olen has written a book about why the personal finance industry is pretty much disgusting, and in this great interview with Anna Clark for the American Prospect, she explains it all. BAAASSICCALLLYYY this is exactly why our site exists: “One of my complaints with the whole personal-finance industrial complex is the censorious, judgmental tone, that all too often sounds like a modern updating of a Victorian morality tract, complete with the wealthy so-called personal-finance experts lecturing the less financially well-off on how to behave.”
Yesterday, our pal Heidi Moore had a chat with Oliver Pursche about managing money and while raising a family and, you know, all the expenses that come with living in a house. The transcript of that chat can be found here, and next month, they will be tackling "investing in an uncertain world."
How worried should I be about receiving credit card offers in the mail that have obviously been already opened by someone else? This has happened to me twice in the last six months, and I even notified my post office after the first time it happened. What else can I do to protect myself against identify theft and keep my mail secure? — M.V.
So Mike/Readers, if I may ask: What tricks do you use to make sure you're properly stocked/organized/under control and avoid overspending dumb money because you're not prepared. — S.M.M.
I've currently got two credit cards with balances: one with $5,500 (interest rate is 9.9%) and one with $1,700 (with a 20.99% interest rate). I've got about $4,000 in my Roth IRA, none of which is invested. I'm trying to figure out if it's worthwhile to withdraw the $1,700 from my IRA to pay down the higher-interest credit card and focus all my monthly payments on the lower-interest one. I've always been told "never borrow against your retirement," but it seems that this might be a good idea. Help?! — N.C.
So, my question is: How much do people usually keep in savings? My husband and I are both in our late 20's, and have lived in NYC for years. We've always assumed most people here—especially renters—don't usually have substantial savings accounts (or worse, are paycheck-to-paycheck). Are we wrong? Or is our once-considered landlord being unfair? — J.M.
If I ultimately have to either stop paying my loans (which are in deferment while I'm a student) or go back to paying just the minimums on my cards, what's the better choice? The dollar amount I would save monthly is the same.
Is there a kind and gentle way for C. to say "Mom, I can't give you any more money?" Are there resources we can suggest to help her develop better spending habits (if it matters, she's in her mid-50's and—thank goodness!—has a generous pension when she retires, so retirement saving isn't a big issue)?
She absolutely deserves the promotion, and I don't want to seem like I begrudge her success. I also think I may be making too much of a big deal about this because I'm thinking about leaving my job in a few months anyway. — Anonymous
I work at a job that I really really like. One of the few downsides is that there is no such thing as a 401(k) and I know there won't be ever. So as a 30-year-old, I have a Roth IRA set up for retirement. And all the articles say "Contribute to your 401(k)!" but what if that is not an option? Should I have a traditional IRA as well? Should I invest in a jar to stuff my money into? — K.K.
I know the onus is entirely upon me to pursue an informational interview with this man; it's just that figuring out how to politely pick his brain is proving a challenge. I tend to be reserved and to way over-think things; please help me figure out how to smoothly and tactfully request a career chat with this guy. — K.G.
I just noticed that the credit available on my three credit cards has been drastically reduced. For example, I used to have a $5,000 limit on one, and now it's down to $1,800. It's not a problem, since I am determined not to use these cards Ever Again, but it seems counterintuitive.
When I was a young, bright-eyed graduate student intent on reporting from a news bureau in Europe or Asia or The Middle East, I signed up for the program as a mentee, and was paired with a foreign correspondent who worked and lived in Italy.
Dear Mike, My father turns 70 this year. He's lived a fantastic, globe-trotting life as a journalist, but his freelancing gigs dried up about a decade ago and now he's living off Social Security and some meager savings with old medical bills to pay. He's very private about finances, so I'm not exactly sure what his situation is, but I am pretty sure he is right on the line of being able to support himself. He lives alone, and is friendly, but somewhat distant from our extended family. (I am his only child.)