Chris Farrell

Columnist | Your Money
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 and put "Your Money" in the subject line.

Recent content from Chris Farrell

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

Diversification now, more options later

Q I am getting conflicting advice in regard to taxable and non-taxable retirement accounts. I have heard it is smart to have pretax [401(k)] and after-tax (Roth IRA) accounts to keep yourself balanced in fear of uncertainty around future tax laws. However, I have the option through my employer to contribute after-tax dollars into a Roth 401(k). What's the smart move?

Updated: February 07, 2011, - 03:26 PM

Being without savings isn't a wise strategy

Q My mother recently received an inheritance of more than $11,000. We're wondering what to do with the money that would be in her best interest. She is a 69 and a widow, and she lives on Social Security. She owes about $27,000 on a home equity mortgage on her house at 5.5 percent. Her car is paid off.

Updated: January 29, 2011, - 10:17 PM

Second home counts, one way or another

But maybe there is another question worth asking here: Why stretch your finances to keep a second home you rarely use?

Updated: January 22, 2011, - 10:00 PM

Brother wonders if he should lend $50,000

It pays for a new entrepreneur to try to raise money outside of family and friends.

Updated: January 15, 2011, - 10:21 PM

Chris Farrell: Sustainability - The government takes a pass, and businesses point the way

From Wal-Mart to Dow Chemical to Silicon Valley and beyond, companies are embracing a new, core strategy.

Updated: January 15, 2011, - 06:22 PM

What's the answer when values collide?

The choice: Pay off medical school loans ($137,000 at 0.6 percent interest ... not a typo) immediately OR over the scheduled 30-year plan ($650/month without any increases).

Updated: January 08, 2011, - 10:04 PM

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