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

Downsizing has appeal for seniors

Q My husband and I are both 71. He sold his small business about 10 years ago and planned to retire. He quickly flunked retirement as he realized that golf and tennis weren't enough to keep him entertained. He also realized that we needed additional income.

Updated: June 11, 2011, - 02:16 PM

Condo owner should analyze before moving

Q I own a one-bedroom condo in a very nice part of Uptown, right along the greenway. I've already lost almost $20,000 of the $237,000 I paid for it when buying in 2008.

Updated: June 04, 2011, - 03:19 PM

Survey ranks the best and the worst of brokers

QI've been trying to locate any website that might include information on historical performances of major money management firms (Morgan Stanley, Fidelity, Amerprise, etc.) and I'm not having much luck. Do you know of sites that have comparison information?

Updated: May 23, 2011, - 03:55 PM

In senior years, is it better rent than to buy?

Q I'm 60 years old and have never really been good with money. I had a foreclosure three years ago. After the sheriff's sale a realtor friend found me a contract-for-deed house. I keep all my other bills up to date and I've prequalified for an FHA mortgage. The owners of the house who are holding the contract want me to now buy the house, sell it, or let the contract expire and move out. The house is only worth maybe $80,000 -- and I still owe $125,000. So I'm considering letting the contract expire and walking away.

Updated: May 13, 2011, - 08:09 AM

Consider working some in retirement

Q My wife recently turned 62 and we've been pondering retirement. We each qualify for modest pensions at our respective workplaces, plus we've managed to save about $400,000, not including equity in our nearly paid-for home. However, we will have at least one of our two adult children in college for another year or two; plus we're assuming primary responsibility for portions of their tuition-loan debt. We'd like to retire while we're still able to lead active lives away from our professions. How should we proceed? 

Updated: May 07, 2011, - 05:29 PM

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 -- -- 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

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