All posts tagged: Finances

How Making More Than My Husband Almost Ruined Our Marriage

Growing up, my father controlled the finances in our family. And when I say he controlled the finances, I mean that he left my mother completely in the dark. Though she had a good job as a special education teacher, he had a higher-paying job as an attorney. That created a power dynamic that allowed him control over their finances until the day he died last year. It was only a few months before his death that my mother realized he had spent most of their savings, taken out a second mortgage on their house (without telling her, forging her name and spending the money without her consent) and had made no plans for her financial well-being after he was gone. She’d allowed the discrepancy in their earning power to give him control over her life, and it cost her dearly. Watching the two of them provided my first lessons in financial planning and marital survival, but not before I had the chance to make mistakes of my own. When my husband and I got …

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How to Have the Money Talk with Your Parents

Even if you began planning for your Golden Years at an early age, there is one thing about retirement that no one ever warns you about: You might be on the hook for some (or all) of your parents’ retirement. How, you may ask? Well, there is a high probability your parentals will outlive their savings. The median household approaching retirement has a nest egg of just $10,000 to $20,000, according to the Government Accountability Office. Among folks who have saved for retirement, the median amount of their savings is about $104,000 for households age 55 to 64 and $148,000 for households age 65 to 74. That’s equivalent to a payout of $310 and $649 per month, respectively. That’s not even accounting for inflation. And you shouldn’t count on Social Security to give Mom and Dad much of a safety net. Social Security coverage is minimal at best – this year, the average monthly benefit is $1,341, which equates to $16,092 for the year. That’s barely enough to stay out of poverty. [pullquote] The average …

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What No One Tells You About Planning for Retirement

I put at least 10 percent (or is it 15 percent?) of my salary in my 401K every year. I contribute to a ROTH every other year (or so). I own my home — or will in 28 years. I have enough in stocks to carry me at least a few weeks. Financially, I’m not that bad off… am I? I ask this of my financial advisor, whose primary value seems to be telling me that I should save more. Disappointingly, he can’t make magic of what I have put away thus far. We meet annually to review where I would be financially if I were to retire at an age that increases with every meeting. He routinely poses questions that start with “If you plan to ever stop working…” or “If you’re serious…” My current retirement plan seems to be not to retire. But then, as I’ve seen with my parents, retirement can come unplanned and earlier than you think. They did everything right — scrimping and saving, counting their pennies and on their …

I Bank at McDonalds: Confessions of a Personal Finance Writer

People assume that I’m good with money because I write about it. I’m better than most. I’ve managed to keep my housing costs below-market in one of America’s most expensive cities for the past two decades. I dutifully sock away 15 percent of my salary (amplified by that oh-so-nice company match) in a retirement plan. I’ve paid off my loans for grad school as well as a car. But I do make questionable financial decisions. Here are four of my deepest, darkest money secrets. 1. I bank at McDonald’s. I know where every McDonald’s is within a 20-block radius from my office. And it’s not for the Big Macs, Filet-O-Fish or French Fries. While I rarely (maybe one out of every 100 visits) consume any food at Mickey Dees, aside from the occasional black-and-white shake, it’s where I get cold, hard cash. That’s because I bank at a credit union which has limited brick-and-mortar locations. But the credit union’s banking network allows you to use ATMs at any New York City McDonald’s, surcharge-free. If I need …

Margit’s Note: It Ain’t Easy

It’s a Masters jacket, it’s a smoothie with healthy stuff in it, it’s an envious glare, it’s a recycling bucket, it’s cold hard cash and it’s tomorrow. (Oh, crap!) This week we’re going #Green. We’re being smarter about our cash and putting plastic forks in the right receptacle. Earth Day (April 22 officially) and Tax Day (I’m not hyperlinking you) are both about giving back, sigh. And sustainability isn’t just the grass on your roof, it’s having a stable economy, being able to raise a family, having money in the bank, saving for retirement. — and women really need to save. Today is also Equal Pay Day. So consider this week your lime-colored, give-back mash-up. It’s weird to think that our perception about taking care of Mother Earth has shifted in our lifetime. It wasn’t that long ago we were throwing out cans with the cat food — now I might even have a bin of mulch-making worms in my very own apartment. OK I didn’t say I did, just that I might. Ok, I …

Margit’s Note: I Need a Dollar; A Dollar Is What I Need.

Happy Tax Day. I will gladly hand you my hard-earned cash. No, no, you keep it. Enjoy. Make me a smooth paved, pothole-free road and we’ll call it even. This week is all about the green stuff. Cash. Even if you are the kind of person who pays for your latte with a quick scan of the QR code, money is still money. While technology has drastically changed the medium, our relationship to money has certainly not. (And I still find myself occasionally calling ATMs – “Mac Machines” — I know my Philadelphia peeps feel me on that.) We wondered: what have we been we taught to think about money by our parents and how has that changed as we’ve gone off to college, moved into our work lives, paid taxes, created  joint bank accounts (or not), thought about retirement and investments (or not). We can never have too much of it, but we can certainly have too little. It is one of our most intimate companions: it’s that invisible friend we never introduce at …