Color of Money: Here's what you can learn from the last financial crisis that will help you with the next.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Ten years ago, a lot of people panicked.

Lehman Bros. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sept. 15, 2008. It was an epic end to a stalwart Wall Street company.

And in the aftermath of Lehman's collapse, many investors wanted out. They understandably decided to sell their individual stocks or get out of stock funds, ...Read more

Color of Money: How much was lost? Lessons learned 10 years after the financial crisis

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- The bankruptcy filing of Lehman Bros. 10 years ago this month shot off a flare that signaled that an already weak economy was in deep trouble.

Caught in the storm that led to the financial crisis were homeowners who found themselves underwater on their mortgages, meaning they owed more than their homes were worth. The stock market...Read more

Color of Money: Help your loved ones by getting your financial house in order before you die

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- When you've helped with as many funerals as I have, you understand how important it is for folks to organize their financial paperwork before it's too late.

Maybe my story will help motivate you to gather your important documents to help your loved ones after you are gone.

My mother was injured in a home fire in 2014. As my ...Read more

Color of Money: Could you use some cash? Here are five places to look for unclaimed money.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- I was changing purses one day and found money I had forgotten I tucked away for an emergency. You would have thought I hit the lottery.

During a recent online discussion, a reader reminded me of a database where people can find unclaimed funds.

"There are lots of hucksters out there claiming they will find your lost property for ...Read more

Color of Money: John McCain wanted to keep Trump away from his funeral. Here are the documents you need to bulletproof your wishes after you die.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Whenever there's a discussion about preparing a will, the focus is usually on what's left to give -- money, a car and family heirlooms.

But you need an overall estate plan that covers more than your possessions.

Should you become incapacitated, a "living will" can dictate what life-prolonging procedures you prefer, if any. And, ...Read more

Color of Money: I wasn't surprised that Aretha Franklin didn't have a will. You probably don't have one either.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- All you can do is learn from other people's mistakes.

I, like so many others, adored Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul's songs dominate several of my iTunes playlists. When someone makes me mad, I play her version of "Respect."

But I lost a little respect for her financial acumen when a recent court filing in Michigan by her ...Read more

Color of Money: Are you 'Insecure' about your financial situation?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- I'm not the target demographic for HBO's "Insecure" series, but I watch to stay up on millennial trials and tribulations.

The comedy/drama has been a hit with young adults for its spot-on depictions of their struggles to succeed in relationships and careers. The most recent episode tackled how to deal with being broke.

The lead ...Read more

Color of Money: No, you don't have to be crazy rich to send your children to college debt-free. Here's how we did it.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- My husband and I have been sneaking high fives because, come this fall, all three of our children will be in college.

And, here's the sweetest part: They're all going to school with no debt.

We don't come from money. We didn't inherit cash because a relative died. There were no lottery winnings or strike-it-rich stock picks.

My ...Read more

Color of Money: A Spelman College freshman doesn't have enough money for college. Here's what happened when her mom asked strangers for help.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- "So, what had happened was ... "

This phrase typically draws immediate laughter. That's because those familiar with the refrain know the speaker is about to admit that something went wrong, and he or she bears some responsibility for it.

It's what I thought of when a few readers asked me to weigh in on a trending story about an ...Read more

Color of Money: Why the future of America's middle class is so financially fragile

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Being in the middle is supposed to keep you economically safe.

You have a fairly secure job with enough money to buy a home, put more than enough food on the table and take vacations. You can afford to upgrade your car every seven years or so.

In the middle, it's assumed that you have good health insurance through your job, with ...Read more

Color of Money: Should you keep your salary a secret from family and friends?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- I was filling out my daughter's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) when she asked a question that for years I've avoided answering.

"Mom, how much do you make?"

I froze. She's the last of our three children to head off to college. The other two weren't as curious. But this one, she's the kid who wants to know ...Read more

Color of Money: Counting on a tax refund next year? Double-check your withholdings now.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Every tax season, a lot of people feel like they've hit the lottery -- except it's their own money they are collecting.

Millions of workers calculate their withholdings so that they get money back at tax time. They know their employer is sending too much to Uncle Sam, and they like it that way. They don't trust themselves to save....Read more

Color of Money: Is your jilted bridesmaid friendship worth a financial strain?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- The Twitter profile for jilted bridesmaid Courtney Duffy went dark for a while. It shifted from public to private after the Dartmouth MBA student posted a now-viral tweet asking JetBlue to refund an airline ticket she bought to attend her friend's wedding.

School commitments were going to keep Duffy from attending the full run of ...Read more

Trying to keep up with the Joneses or Kardashians? Here's how to stop money envy.

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- In a few weeks, the movie "Crazy Rich Asians" will premiere, and the opulent wealth will likely induce money envy.

I loved the book on which the film is based, but there were times when I got a little jealous reading about people who have so much money that they don't have to start looking for the best airline prices nine months ...Read more

Color of Money: What is the best way to pay off debt?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- Once people decide to tackle their debt, they set about trying to figure out the best way to do it.

I think you can learn a lot about paying off debt by reading two of Aesop's Fables: "Belling the Cat" and "The Hare and the Tortoise."

These tales can be used as inspiration for two of the most frequently asked questions from ...Read more

Color of Money: Should you keep your savings in the bank or use it to pay off debt?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- You only have so much money. So you may be struggling over whether it's better to save it for an emergency or pay off debt.

This decision can send some people into financial paralysis. They aren't sure what to do, so they don't fully commit to either choice.

But consider this: A Federal Reserve Report on the Economic Well-Being ...Read more

Color of Money: No, you don't need a perfect 850 FICO score to be an exceptional borrower

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- I have been told many times that I'm a perfectionist, but I feel that I'm not perfect enough for such a label.

Yet it's true that my life is driven by a relentless report-card-like quest for excellence. This is why I understand people with super-high FICO credit scores who seethe that they have yet to get a perfect 850.

I should ...Read more

Color of Money: How much money do you really need to feel rich?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- How much money would you need to feel wealthy?

A recent survey sponsored by Charles Schwab asked 1,000 Americans ages 21 to 75 what level of personal net worth would make them feel "financially comfortable." The average figure was about $1.4 million. It would take another $1 million -- a total of $2.4 million on average -- for ...Read more

Color of Money: What do your parents owe you when they die?

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- I get a tremendous amount of feedback from readers every time I write on the topic of what's fair in a parent's will.

Most recently, I addressed whether a needy adult child should get more money in the will than a financially secure sibling. (Here's the link for that column:

Most of the reader responses ...Read more

Color of Money: What you don't know about Social Security could cost you

Business / The Color of Money /

WASHINGTON -- For so many, Social Security is the safety net that they just can't live without.

But knowing when to collect your benefits and understanding the system's complex rules can be very vexing.

In a poll earlier this year conducted for MassMutual, nearly half of respondents 50 and over failed a short true/false quiz on Social Security...Read more


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