Color of Money: What would Michelle do in these financial conundrums?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Readers often want to know what I would do in certain financial situations.

Many people characterize these queries as "WWMD" or, "What would Michelle do?"

I do my best to provide informed answers based on my experience and reporting, including conversations with numerous financial experts. So here are my responses to some ...Read more

Color of Money: Worried about cuts to Social Security? Author Andy Landis has created the bible on how to navigate this retirement benefit

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Social Security and retirement go together like peanut butter and jelly -- many people just can't have one without the other.

Yet when it comes to Social Security, there is a mountain of anxiety about how it factors into retirement plans, especially for the millions of people who depend on it as their only source of income.

...Read more

Color of Money: If your adult children want to move back home, make them sign this contract

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- That 30-year-old man who had to be forced by a judge to vacate his parents' home has finally packed his bags and left.

Mark and Christina Rotondo wanted their unemployed adult son to move out. They said they were fed up with his not contributing to the household. But their son, Michael, refused to go, so the couple filed a ...Read more

Color of Money: Who should foot the bill on the first date? #WhoPays

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- It's hard to know the rules about who pays on a first date anymore -- which can make for some very awkward moments.

My 23-year-old daughter recently came back from a first date with some questions about what happened when the time came to pay for the evening's food and fun.

She had agreed to meet the young man at a high-tech ...Read more

Color of Money: You'll soon be able to freeze your credit files for free -- but identity theft will still be a threat

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHIGTON -- Last week, a new law torched some of the banking rules that were put in place after the financial crisis to protect us. But also tucked into the otherwise awful bill was a win for consumers.

By Sept. 21, everyone will be able to place and remove a "security freeze" on their credit files for free. Such a freeze -- also called a "...Read more

Color of Money: Should grandparents open a 529 savings plan to help with college costs?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- With the steep cost of college, lots of grandparents feel the need to help cover some of the expenses.

One way to assist is by contributing to a tax-advantaged 529 college-savings plan. Earnings in the account are tax-free if used for qualified expenses.

But for grandparents, there can be a catch to your generosity. The Free ...Read more

Color of Money: Here are the top excuses people use for not investing in a 529 college-savings plan

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- In the fall, my husband and I will have three children in universities: one in her second year of graduate school, one a junior in college, and the other a first-semester freshman.

When they are finished, not one of our children will graduate with any debt. None. Nada.

How did we do it without hitting the lottery or the ...Read more

Color of Money: Millennials get plenty of financial advice -- but most of it is wrong

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Older adults love to smugly talk about the "entitled" attitude of millennials.

But today's youth actually have a lot in common with both the Depression-era generation and baby boomers: Sixty-two percent of millennials identify themselves as savers and 80 percent say they budget their money, according to a TD Ameritrade survey.

...Read more

Color of Money: No, the end of credit card signatures is not good for consumers

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- In hawking its iPhone X, Apple produced a pretty fly commercial.

Fly as in stylish. Or, "totally lit," as teens say.

Apple's "Fly Market" ad highlights how easy it is to pay with your face.

Three seconds. That's all it takes for the actor to pay for a hat that flies off the rack and onto his head. Another second and he's got on ...Read more

Color of Money: No, an allowance doesn't teach your children how to manage money

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- I went to live with my maternal grandmother, Big Mama, when I was 4. And at 4, I stepped into her financial class.

"Big Mama, can we go to McDonald's?"

This question and every other similar request to buy me anything that wasn't a necessity were met with a money lesson. Every. Single. Time.

That's how I learned to be a good ...Read more

Color of Money: Trump brags that he's a billionaire, but he doesn't act like one

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- People lie about their financial situation all the time.

Some do it on purpose. Most do it unconsciously, because they are too embarrassed or afraid to face the truth.

I regularly help people straighten up their financial mess. As part of the process, I get to see the intimate details of their budgets. I also make everyone ...Read more

Color of Money: The very rich are not different from you and me -- family financial drama drives them crazy, too!

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- I used to think that if my family had more money, many of our problems would go away.

Rich people can easily bail out family members who get into financial jams without worrying that they'll run out of money in their own old age.

Wealth insulates you from a lot of things.

But money can't protect you from insecure, narcissistic,...Read more

Color of Money: No, you will not be able to get rid of your tax debt for pennies on the dollar

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- For many Americans, the tax season is over. Their federal tax returns are in, and they've made vacation plans knowing they can pay for their fun in the sun with a fat refund.

But then there are those who owe. For them, there is the ticking time bomb of their tax debt, plus the added burden of interest and penalties. Knowing they ...Read more

Color of Money: Is $1 million enough to retire? Here's why this benchmark is both real and unrealistic

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- I didn't mean to frighten you.

Last week I wrote about a 64-year-old woman I met who had been forced into retirement after losing her job. She was shaking from fear that her $1 million retirement savings wasn't going to last if she couldn't go back to work. I asked a certified financial planner about this woman's concerns.

She ...Read more

Color of Money: Why does a 2-year-old have a credit card? Here's how to protect your children from identity theft.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- When identity theft hits adults, it can be a long and frustrating battle to restore their good name.

But imagine the confusion that ensues when a young adult tries to get a credit card for the first time only to find out he has several delinquent accounts in his credit file, some dating back to when he was just a toddler.

...Read more

Color of Money: This is how it feels to be a millionaire and still feel broke

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- I met the woman after speaking at a recent Bible study at my church.

My pastor, John K. Jenkins Sr., has been doing a series of study sessions on personal finances. On this night, we were teaching together about getting out of debt.

"You don't have a money problem, you have a management problem," Jenkins told the congregation at ...Read more

Color of Money: Thinking of cashing in your home's equity? Here's something you should know.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Plan on tapping into your home equity to make a springtime splurge?

The good news is that, despite what you may have heard about the new tax law, you might still be eligible for a federal tax deduction on the interest you pay.

The bad news is this tax break is extremely limited -- at least until 2025.

Homeowners who itemize can ...Read more

Color of Money: Interest on home-equity loans is no longer tax deductible if you're using the money to pay off a porn star or credit card debt

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- The hullabaloo involving President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen is a good time to remind you of a key change in the tax deductibility of home-equity loans.

Cohen has claimed that he tapped his own home's equity to facilitate the $130,000 payment in 2016 to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had a sexual ...Read more

Color of Money: When is it morally right to duck debt?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- There are times when you can be right but still wrong.

During one of my recent online chats, a reader wanted to know if a sibling was doing the right thing regarding his debt.

"My brother has been sharing information with me about debt collectors," the person wrote. "When you have an original debt and it is written off by the ...Read more

Color of Money: CFPB's Mulvaney attempts to defang watchdog agency

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- In response to a rumor that he was gravely ill and possibly dead, Mark Twain wrote to a newspaper that "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

But accounts of the slow death of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are not exaggerations. In his just released report to Congress, the agency's Acting Director Mick ...Read more


Social Connections


Mike Luckovich Cul de Sac Signe Wilkinson Mallard Fillmore Ask Shagg Arctic Circle