The 3 biggest money decisions you’ll ever make

Some factors that influence your financial success are beyond your control. Older people tend to be richer than younger people. White U.S. households, on average, have many times the wealth of black or Hispanic households. Those born into the top or bottom of the economic strata typically stay there.

But the decisions you make about three key areas in your life can have an outsize impact on whether you’re able to build financial stability.

In my latest for the Associated Press, the three biggest money decisions you’ll ever make.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 7 ways to ready your finances for divorce. Also in the news: Tips for the Class of 2017, simplifying your savings, and how a credit union raised the roof on credit card rewards.

7 Ways to Ready Your Finances for Divorce
Preparing for a difficult time.

Class of 2017: Get a Jump on Adulthood With These 7 Tips
No more kidding around.

Simplifying Saving with the 52-Week Money Challenge
You can do it!

How a Credit Union Raised the Roof on Credit Card Rewards
A Chicago-based credit union is taking rewards to the next level.

5 money myths you probably believe

Managing money can be complicated, and myths are often born from people’s struggles to make it simpler. But simplistic solutions can cost you instead of saving you money.

If you believe any of these five money myths, it’s time to take a closer look at the financial realities.

In my latest for the Associated Press, it’s time for some money myth busting.

Are you saving too much?

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailWe know Americans aren’t great at math, so there may be people taken in by a column headlined, “If you have savings in your 20s, you’re doing something wrong.” The post went viral, leading to counter-posts by virtually everyone in the known universe who understands how money works.

Bottom line: You can’t ignore the power of compounded returns. If you don’t know why that’s so important, Google it or read this column by Michelle Singletary in the Washington Post: “In your 20s? Don’t squander your biggest asset: time.”

Carpe diem isn’t exactly a new idea. Since the beginning of time (or at least since the invention of money), people have argued that living for today is far more important than saving for tomorrow. But smart folks do both. I traveled a lot in my 20s and 30s, including a trip around the world, and did other expensive things like learn to fly an airplane. But I also saved money–a ton of money–for retirement. And now, decades later, I have a lot of options that people who got a late start saving for retirement don’t have. I can retire early or cut way back on our savings, and we’ll be fine.

It is certainly possible to save too much, but it’s not that common. If you’ve maxed out all your retirement savings options and are looking for additional ways to save, maybe it’s time to think about loosening up (unless you’re making up for a late start). But we’re certainly not facing an epidemic of over-saving–among young people or anyone else.

 

 

Q&A: Social Security benefits and divorce

Dear Liz: You’ve been answering questions about ex-spouses and Social Security benefits. My first marriage was longer than 10 years, and I was the primary earner. My ex remarried but later divorced again.

Does his getting remarried nullify his claims forevermore — or is his ability to claim spousal benefits based on my income back on the table as long as he remains unmarried?

Answer: It’s the latter. Your ex can claim spousal benefits based on your work record as long as your marriage to him lasted at least 10 years and he is not currently married.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

download (1)Today’s top story: Are you behind the financial times? Also in the news: How to better organize your bills, talking with your family about inheritance, and learning the five parts of your credit score.

6 Signs You’re Behind the Financial Times
Still writing checks?

4 Ways to Better Organize Your Bills
And kiss late fees goodbye in the process.

On Inheritance, UBS Urges Families to Break the Silence
The importance of difficult conversations.

Everyone Should Know the 5 Parts of a Credit Score; Do You?
Let’s find out.

5 Ways to Make Peace With Money
What to do when money is your nemesis.

Take a year to Get Rich Slowly

Fixing material in the red plastic boxesJ.D. Roth went from being over $35,000 in debt to having over $1 million in the bank. He documented his journey at the excellent Get Rich Slowly site, sharing what he learned about frugality, investing and smart money decisions.

He also wrote a very good book, “Your Money: The Missing Manual.” But The Missing Manual series has a definite format (like the For Dummies and Idiot’s Guides). I’ve been looking forward to reading what J.D. could come up with on his own.

It was worth the wait. J.D. and fellow entrepreneur/blogger Chris Guillebeau just debuted the Get Rich Slowly course. For $39–75 cents a week–you get:

  • An email every Monday that features the best lessons from the blog.
  • A 120-page guide called “Be Your Own CFO”, that in my view is the highlight of the course. (J.D. agrees, calling it “the best work I’ve ever done.)
  • Supplementary downloads, including a revised version of my Roth IRA guide.
  • Interviews with people with a bunch of money thought leaders, including Jean Chatzky, Gretchen Rubin, Tess Vigeland, and yours truly.

I’m not getting paid or compensated in any way for recommending J.D.’s course. I just think it’s a great way to step up your game when it comes to money, and maybe your life.

Check it out at MoneyToolbox.com.

What you–and your kids–really need to know about money

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailIn case you haven’t noticed, efforts to teach financial literacy in schools and elsewhere are a pretty big failure.

As a nation we’re not getting much better at managing our money. Efforts to change that by teaching money skills in schools haven’t done much to improve the situation. Follow-up studies on people who took financial literacy courses in school typically show the education has little effect. So the debate rages on about whether we should still try.

You won’t be surprised, given what I do, that I think it’s essential people educate themselves and their kids about money. So I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Google Hangout with CFP Neal Frankle, who runs the Wealth Pilgrim site, where we’ll talk about financial literacy, including ways to get it and give it. The event is sponsored by Bankrate and AOL DailyFinance.

If you’d like to join us, our chat will stream live starting at 2 p.m. Eastern, 11 a.m. Pacific. Hope to see you there!

Update: If you missed the event, the link to our conversation can be found here, on the DailyFinance site.