Color of Money: What does it mean to 'max out' your retirement plan?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- If there is an upside to the concern of a coming recession, it's that people get more interested in understanding their personal finances.

I often have a hard time persuading people to save when times are good and their paycheck is steady. But when there's a downturn in the economy and the stock market swings wildly, they start to...Read more

Color of Money: Young people: don't let the markets scare you away from investing now

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- I was stunned. My family was watching a rerun of the "Teachers Tournament" on "Jeopardy." I got excited because I knew the correct response to this question: "This proposed federal rule would have required all retirement planning advisers to act in their clients' best interests."

But before I could get my answer out, my 21-year-...Read more

Millennials, if you're hosting a party, your guests don't pay -- even if you're broke

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- As you get older, there is the tendency to start sentences with, "Back in my day ... "

What follows is a blast from the past on how certain things were done. But doing the right thing never gets old.

For example, when you receive a gift or someone does something extraordinary for you, the polite thing to do is send a thank you ...Read more

Color of Money: Were you blindsided by your 2018 taxes? The IRS has a new withholding tool that will help you pay the right amount of taxes for 2019.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- This year's tax season was one of angst and anger.

Many folks were distraught that they owed the IRS money. Others were disappointed that their refunds were significantly less than in previous years.

Many people were not happy with the changes ushered in under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Although the law nearly doubled the ...Read more

Color of Money: What you still need to know about the Equifax settlement

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Be mad. Without your consent, credit bureaus collect information about your personal finance history -- whether you pay your loans on time, how much debt you carry, etc. This is their business model, and it allows lenders to assess a customer's credit risk.

Then there was the 2017 hack at Equifax. The personal data of about 147 ...Read more

Color of Money: The Equifax settlement has already spawned deceptive websites. Be careful, because the scammers are coming for you.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- It's been less than two weeks since the Equifax data-breach settlement was announced, and already at least two websites trying to scam information-seekers have been shut down.

And thus begins the effort to catch unscrupulous individuals looking to make a buck off the credit bureau's major data breach.

Let me say this now, because...Read more

Color of Money: What's in your wallet? If it's a Capital One credit card, this is the one thing you should do now to protect yourself.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Another day, another major data breach. But there is one thing that you should do now to put up a serious roadblock for identity thieves.

Before I get into this strategy, here's a recap of the past week.

Capital One Financial Corp. disclosed Monday that a hacker was able to access the personal information -- names, addresses, ...Read more

Color of Money: The Equifax data breach settlement isn't bad, but here's what we 'should' get when companies fail to protect our personal data.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- In the last few months, I have been hit several times by scammers. Someone hacked my online Target account and ordered an expensive camera that I had to return. In a matter of seconds, crooks spent $200 on my credit card before I could freeze it. I also had to cancel a premium delivery service offered by UPS that an identity thief ...Read more

Color of Money: Got burdensome student loan debt? Don't fall for scams.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- You got the degree -- or didn't -- and now you have so much debt that you're looking for help to reduce your student loan payments.

You are a con artist's dream. You are so desperate for debt relief that you believe promoters who promise the impossible -- fast loan forgiveness.

But instead of renegotiated payment plans, the ...Read more

Color of Money: Let's stop treating community colleges like the ugly stepsisters of four-year universities

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Repeat after me: My child is not a failure if he or she has to start out at a community college.

And then I need to you stop saying, "Community college is like the 13th grade" -- meaning it's a continuation of high school. This expression is derogatory and disparages students who attend a community college as a more affordable ...Read more

Color of Money: There is no shortcut to debt relief -- so don't believe the hype

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- The nation's biggest debt-settlement services provider will pay a steep price after allegedly deceiving borrowers who'd gotten in over their heads.

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reached a settlement with Freedom Debt Relief in which the company, while not admitting guilt, agreed to pay a $5 million ...Read more

Color of Money: Don't let the roller coaster excitement around bitcoin distract you from the basics of investing

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- The seesaw volatility of bitcoin poses a perfect opportunity.

Let's talk about how the average American millionaire next door accumulates wealth. And, it's not like what you see on television.

Bravo's "The Real Housewives" franchise of shows highlights a glamorously wealthy world of champagne brunches, exciting yacht parties and ...Read more

Color of Money: Five reasons you need a budget

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- There are two loves in my life -- my "boo" and my budget.

OK, maybe my husband comes first, but I'm not kidding about my love affair with our budget. It's the road map to our economic soundness.

But our budget doesn't just encompass a list of our household expenses. It's more like a manifesto. The budget my husband and I have ...Read more

Color of Money: Your maid of honor is not made of cash

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- For many people, being part of a wedding party can strain their savings, not to mention their relationship with the couple.

For one New York woman, the cost for her family to participate in her sister-in-law's nuptials several years ago was a four-figure commitment.

She, her husband (the bride's brother) and their two teenage ...Read more

Color of Money: Gloria Vanderbilt jeans made me feel good about myself

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- If you're low-income, you're not supposed to want -- and you're certainly not supposed to buy -- anything considered a luxury.

And yet the poor do buy pricy items and clothing, because they often need something to combat bruised self-esteem.

In the early 1980s, I was living off my summer-internship earnings and the tiny part-time...Read more

Color of Money: Should parents welcome the boomerang generation back?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Once your children launched, you thought you were free, right? They were now out of your pocketbook, and your parenting duties were done.

But for many parents, that freedom has yet to arrive. Their adult children are moving back in for financial relief.

Others boomerang feeling entitled to access their parents' resources. A ...Read more

Color of Money: Why smart women do stupid things with their money

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- On the face of it, the landscape of personal finance is a man's world.

Men's faces dominate our currency.

Men largely control Wall Street and the firms that hold and invest our money.

And when you see a commercial about financial advising, it's almost always a man giving the advice.

But James Brown was right when he sang, "This...Read more

Color of Money: Yes, you probably should get a credit freeze for your child

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Another day, another data breach.

Most recently, Quest Diagnostics, a major medical-testing company, reported that a breach may have compromised not just financial and medication information but also the Social Security numbers of nearly 12 million patients.

It's a battlefield out there, but it's important to try to keep hackers ...Read more

Color of Money: How playing blackjack proved I was a natural-born saver.

Business / The Color of Money /

EDITORS -- Michelle Singletary is taking a one-column vacation. Her next column will move Thursday, June 6, for release Sunday, June 9.

WASHINGTON -- I always wondered if I was a penny pincher because my grandmother taught me to be a saver, or because my DNA had genetic code that predisposed me to fear spending money.

Mostly, I've believed I ...Read more

Color of Money: Young adults are told to save for retirement as soon as possible. But is this the best advice?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Young adults have at least one thing working in their financial favor: time.

Older adults who are faced with delaying retirement longer than they wish often confide in me that, if they could tell their younger self one thing, it would be to start saving for retirement as soon as possible.

But the slow and tedious process of ...Read more


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