Chris Farrell

Columnist | Your Money
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Chris Farrell is economics editor for American Public Media's weekly "Marketplace Money" show and author of "The New Frugality." He answers reader questions on most Sundays. Send questions to cfarrell@mpr.org and put "Your Money" in the subject line.

Recent content from Chris Farrell

Chris Farrell: Paid-off mortgage frees cash for Roth IRA

Q My wife and I paid off our mortgage and have both opened Roth IRA accounts with monthly contributions of $500. Our mortgage payment was $1,100.00. Also we learned that our maximum contribution to Roth IRA is pegged at $6,000 each, so this fits nicely into our new budget. Is this a wise move for us since I am 59 and my wife is 54?

Updated: April 30, 2011, - 09:54 PM

Chris Farrell: Managed portfolio isn't for everyone

Q Up until recently my wife and I had separate financial advisers with very different approaches. We made a choice and are now working with just one, the one who merges financial planning with life planning. One phrase that keeps coming up is ''managed portfolio." What are the pluses and minuses?

Updated: April 16, 2011, - 10:16 PM

Keep portfolio in balance as you take cash out

QMy wife and I are both in our early 60s and retired. I have a good pension and about $600,000 in my 401(k) in about eight to 10 mutual stock funds, bond funds, index funds and cash funds. My wife has about $60,000 in her 401(k), mostly in stock mutual funds. We have been able to live on my pension and have not applied for Social Security yet (but that is a question for another time). We have a $50,000 mortgage, have decent medical insurance and have long-term care policies. We have been thinking about taking small amounts out our 401(k) accounts for vacations and are wondering about withdrawal strategies. If we want to take, say, $10,000 to $15,000 out in a year, should we take it out of only one fund? Or should we take it proportionately out of all the funds?  

Updated: April 09, 2011, - 01:59 PM

Don't base plans on predictions of doomsday

Q My wife and I are about five years from retirement and are very conservative when it comes to investing our retirement funds. Recently I watched a video -- endofamerica.com -- that I found disturbing. I'd like to know if you've watched it and, if so, what are your thoughts?

Updated: April 02, 2011, - 10:57 PM

Ask what kind of life you want in retirement

Here's the frightening vision: Everyone knows Americans are aging and that retirement looms for the baby boom generation. Yet instead of the elderly saying goodbye to their colleagues for the last time and picking up the keys to their condo they'll be forced to earn money as a Wal-Mart greeter and move into a trailer.

Updated: March 19, 2011, - 10:16 PM

Stable value funds might be worth a look

QI have never found an investment that provides returns as high and as safe as stable value funds. These are only available in 401(k)s. Therefore, I think the advice to roll over a 401(k) into an IRA is inappropriate, especially for a person near retirement age.

Updated: March 12, 2011, - 11:51 PM

Retirement account rules are a disgrace

Q I'm wondering why there is a maximum of $16,500 that can be contributed into a combination of 401(k) and Roth 401(k) accounts per year. It makes sense to me that you could only contribute up to $16,500 into a 401(k) account because the before-tax deductions reduce your tax base. But why don't they allow us to contribute additional amounts into a Roth 401(k) account, since it comes from after-tax dollars?

Updated: March 05, 2011, - 01:26 PM

Base your debt burden on your expected earnings

Fact is, you really can't go wrong by simply limiting how much you borrow.

Updated: February 26, 2011, - 09:07 PM

Take control of that old 401(k)

Q: After losing my job about seven years ago and moving into a new field, I never got around to doing anything with my old 401(k). Should I move the assets into my Fidelity account where I also have a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA? Should I see a financial planner?

Updated: February 19, 2011, - 10:18 PM

Consolidating 401(k)s good idea

Q Because of job changes, I have my 401(k) retirement funds in two mutual fund companies, Fidelity and Vanguard. I chose the same types of funds in both accounts, large cap, mid cap, small cap, and international. I was considering consolidating all of the funds in one account, but then I realized that would be putting all of my eggs in one basket. Should I consolidate my retirement funds for simplicity's sake, or keep them separate for safety's sake?

Updated: February 12, 2011, - 09:55 PM

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