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Liz Weston

Columnist Money Talk

Recent Articles

  • How to figure out the right time for retirement

    How to figure out the right time for retirement

    Dear Liz: I hear so much talk about waiting to collect Social Security. What are good reasons to start collecting Social Security at age 62? I recently retired from the military with a monthly retirement of $4,400. I plan to work a civilian job until I'm 62 (eight more years). I'm in fairly good...

  • Don't jump into early retirement without considering these things

    Don't jump into early retirement without considering these things

    Dear Liz: I am almost 59½. Can I retire at 60½? I have $570,000 in a 401(k) and $180,000 in an IRA. I owe $253,000 on a condo that would sell for $600,000. I plan to buy a home next year for $400,000 and pay off the mortgage with the proceeds of the condo. Then I would be left with no bills. I...

  • Congrats on the new baby. Now build up that emergency fund

    Congrats on the new baby. Now build up that emergency fund

    Dear Liz: I'm a new mom and want to start saving for my son's college/car/other life expenses while also planning a secure future for him. If I only had, for example, $300 a month to put toward this goal, what would you recommend I spend it on? Life insurance? Savings accounts for him? Savings...

  • Saving for retirement can't wait

    Saving for retirement can't wait

    Dear Liz: I have a family member who at 57 has no savings, a house whose value is 58% mortgaged and debt from a family member of $180,000. This person is just starting a new job that will cover expenses with about $1,000 left over each month. The job offers a 401(k) but doesn’t allow contributions...

  • To give or not to give can be a taxing question

    To give or not to give can be a taxing question

    Dear Liz: A good friend who is childless wishes to give his property to my daughter before his death. He has been an informal uncle for the whole 50 years of my daughter's life, and we are, in effect, his family. However, I am concerned that the gift tax may be more than he bargained for. He is...

  • How to divvy up your wealth when you don't agree with one offspring's life choices

    How to divvy up your wealth when you don't agree with one offspring's life choices

    Dear Liz: I am reasonably well off thanks to hard work, some luck and a hard-earned (by my mother) inheritance. I don't spend much because I prefer a simple life, so the money has piled up over the decades. I have two children. One has a college degree, a decent job, and is saving for retirement....

  • How student loans can follow you to the grave

    How student loans can follow you to the grave

    Dear Liz: Several years ago, my daughter called in tears asking if I could help because my granddaughter, who was halfway through her first year of college, would have to drop out if she didn't immediately finish paying her tuition. I agreed to co-sign a loan, thinking after she got through that...

  • Debt settlement vs. filing for bankruptcy: Pros and cons

    Debt settlement vs. filing for bankruptcy: Pros and cons

    Dear Liz: I owe a credit card company about $16,900. I have not been able to make payments for almost two years and have no money. They recently sent me a proposal to pay off the entire amount at 30 cents on the dollar by making 24 payments of a little over $200 per month. I’m concerned they can...

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