Staff Directory 16828336

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
Currency traders in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, June 19, 2020.

You can have fun in the stock market, but keep sums small

What is going on with the stock market? Despite some nerve-racking plunges, investors seem remarkably cheery. If you only paid attention to the stock market…
In a dramatic change in policy, private-equity titans have succeeded in gaining access to 401(k) money.

Why you should be wary of private equity getting a shot at your 401(k)

Private-equity performance is too opaque, and private-equity fees too onerous and too complicated for the 401(k) saver.
Hundreds of families in need stood in line for donations at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 in Minneapolis.

Don't listen to the markets. Embrace 4 basics of personal finance

When we give our money away and volunteer our time, we ask the right question: How can we make a difference?

Think of this pandemic era as a retirement test drive

Many near-retirees now know odds are they'll need to plan on working well into the traditional retirement years, while saving more and focusing on eliminating debts
Many are journaling their thoughts and experiences during the pandemic.

It's going to be different from now on, so think through a personal plan

One trick is to keep a diary. The notes are there to help you think through your likes, strengths, weaknesses and goals.

Socially responsible investing shows relative strength in pandemic economy

Making money and embracing sustainability may well be two sides of the same coin.

Make frugality a key part of your financial crisis recovery plan

Savings protects against downside risks and allows for taking advantage of opportunities.
Mythri Ambatipudi, of Sugarland, Texas, got some help from 3M mentor and corporate scientist Mahfuza Ali during an event at 3M in Maplewood for young

Mentoring in an economy rocked by pandemic can pay off for everybody

The best investment the older generation can make is in the younger generation.

Is this a good time to buy a house?

Forecasting is hazardous under normal circumstances, but it's especially difficult right now.
FILE - In this Friday, March 13, 2020, file photo, a trader walks on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during President Donald Trump's televise

Key steps to take in a turbulent stock market

A couple of techniques help the typical retirement saver to "stand still" smartly until the market revives.
Half of pre-retirees age 50-plus say they would make major sacrifices that could affect their retirement to help family members.

In times like these, it's your intergenerational network that counts

What else is money for but to support those we love? Reach out and make sure the people you know are OK.
The Federal Reserve building in Washington.

To cope with this downturn, remember what happened the last time

Monetary and fiscal policy are critical for shoring up the economy and confidence.
Market timing is often hazardous to the wealth of the typical individual saver.

Why target-date funds may be your best investment

Most employers with 401(k) plans now offer the option and for new employees it's the most popular choice.
Many households are carrying too much debt.

Best virus money moves you can make: Attack household debt, hone job hunting skills

Instead of trying to time the markets at times like these, focus on what you can control.
Stretching household finances to buy a bigger home comes with many more financial complications than with owning a smaller place.

If you really want to amp up savings, sweat the big stuff

Only a handful of expenses really count when it comes to the desire save more by spending money wisely.

Your retirement planning should include personal connections

Health concerns about loneliness don't seem like a classic personal finance topic. Yet thinking about how to avoid loneliness is critical to savvy retirement planning.
Wind turbines near Frankfurt, Germany.

Once ridiculed, socially responsible investing is shaking up money management

Socially responsible or sustainable money management has gone mainstream and will only grow in influence.

Index fund takeover worries don't change basic facts

Putting money into a portfolio that matches the performance of an index like the S&P 500 is cheap, simple and savvy.
In 2020, anyone with a workplace retirement plan they contribute to can pony up even more money. The IRS adjusts the annual contribution limit to keep

If you turned 70½ after Jan. 1, your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) may have changed

The age change won't affect many retirees since they typically start withdrawing well before their RMD date. They need the money to pay bills.
Giving yourself a financial penalty may keep your exercise regime on track.

Want to improve yourself in 2020? Here are 4 tips to making resolutions work

The desire to develop better habits revolve around a few core areas.

Get ready for more annuity options in employer retirement plans

The legislation clears a path for employers to offer annuities as part of their retirement plans. Other than that, it's legislative tinkering.

College graduates with no workplace retirement plan should check out a Roth IRA

The big advantage is that contributions can be withdrawn without tax consequences or early withdrawal penalty.

Retirement planning needs to include keeping in touch with your communities

The message from a recent Senate report is clear from its title, "An Invisible Tsunami: 'Aging Alone' and Its Effect on Older Americans, Families, and Taxpayers."

How the season of giving can bolster sound personal finance habits

The difficult question is how to stay focused on what matters when earning and managing our money.

Wise financial planning is grounded in finding a purpose

We have different goals, values and talents. Yet we share the desire to know that what we are doing matters.

Scams are on the rise, and most are aimed at elderly

A recent report from the Federal Trade Commission highlights how vulnerable we are all are to con artists.

Multigenerational households are on the rise, and that's a good thing

Some 64 million people — 20% of the U.S. population — lived in multigenerational households in 2016.

To lower your financial risk, lower your overhead

GE's shift in retirement plans is yet one more example of rising economic insecurity for the average worker and the typical household.
Tom and Heidi Notbohm followed their dream to become innkeepers at the Buckingham Inn bed and breakfast in Madison, Wis.

How to follow your second-act dreams when the world says don't

The calculated risks they took launching a publishing house and a bed-and-breakfast.

Chris Farrell: When passing a fortune to the kids, should it be all at once or in pieces over time?

Q: In considering retirement and estate planning, it is likely I will have a choice between leaving my children funds mostly in conventional taxable investments,…

Some good bets for retirees anxious about inflation

Q: I am retired. As I see it, there are at least two key factors when considering investing for retirement (including annuities): 1. How long…

When retiring, should you leave for 401(k) with your employer or move it?

My standard recommendation is to shift the savings into a rollover IRA. Control is a big reason.

Are annuities right for you? It's worth doing some homework to get the answer

A recent pitch I received to learn more about the annuity market included the line, “annuities are coming, whether you like them or not.” The…
The U.S. economy is growing more slowly this year than it did in 2018. That doesn't mean a recession is imminent, but it's always getting closer.

A recession is coming, some day. Are you prepared?

You have time to prepare your finances for a downturn.

How parents can help college-bound students learn to manage money

Sound money-management practices are critical since most students receive a loan-repayment schedule along with their diploma.

Why you should consider opening a business in retirement

The 55- to 64-year-old age cohort accounted for more than a quarter of new business startups in 2017, according to the Kauffman Foundation.

Should retirees rent or buy a home? Cash flow is key

Q: I am a 65-year-old female, retired. I have about $50,000 in investments. I am selling a house as part of a divorce. I can…

Books and conversations to help teens learn about money

Q: My three teenage grandsons have the potential to come into some inheritances within the next few years. My financial adviser has said he would…
FILE - In this March 5, 2012, file photo, consumer credit cards are posed in North Andover, Mass.

It could be time for you to build savings, pare debt

Risk management is more than the investment portfolio.

Having a side hustle can pay off big for caregivers

American workers have always had some kind of side hustle. Looking at data from JPMorgan on the gig economy (think Uber, Lyft and TaskRabbit), a…

Most important thing you can pass on to loved ones isn't money

The high-tech entrepreneurs at the recent Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit conference are developing products and services largely targeted at an elderly population and their…

New standard for financial advisers falls short for investors

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently approved its Regulation Best Interest standard for brokers. The best-interest standard replaces the stricter Obama-era fiduciary standard rule for…

You should play it safe with cash you will need in the short term

Q: A few years ago, we had to move my dad to a memory-care facility. He had some investments, and, due to the cost of…

It makes sense to freeze your credit and keep it frozen

The cost consumers now pay for managing a credit freeze is nothing more than a minor inconvenience that is well worth the benefit.

How to make a difference and still pay off those student loans

The advice to pursue your dreams at work may be nice, but the borrowed money still has to be repaid.

Knowing when enough is enough just could be the secret to investing success

John "Jack" Bogle followed his own advice.
The wish to leave our heirs with a legacy is powerful. Don’t leave them without an estate plan.

No financial plan is complete without a basic estate plan

If you are among those who haven't put together a basic estate plan, get it done in 2019. Your heirs and close circle of relatives and friends will thank you.

Where to get information to plan future housing options

Q: I’m interested in gathering information to plan for moving from our home when we can’t take care of it. I am 68 and my…

Late to the retirement savings game? Frugality can bail you out

Clearly, the standard financial advice is good. Problem is, the approach isn't realistic for many people.

Just starting out? Here are some basic money tips

Money management for young college graduates is mostly adopting a few good spending and savings habits.

If you want to save more money, sweat the big stuff

That's the best way to free up cash that can be stashed away.

Retirement planning needs to factor in changing life spans

The school, work, retirement silos are coming down, and a more complex narrative is being scripted.

Study finds that despite better ways to save, many count on tax refunds

Tax refunds matter to household finances. That's the clear message from a recent study by the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Institute. The report draws on…

Use these good times to shore up household finances

In the late 1980s, I was invited along with a handful of other young journalists covering personal finance to meet with Sir John Templeton, an…

Explore your options when required retirement distributions kick in

Like so many laws attached to retirement savings plans, there are twists and traps for the unwary.

Experts recommend finance and investing books for younger readers

Q: I’m looking for book recommendations for teens about money management, investments, etc. My son is 14 and has a high interest in learning about…

To lower your household's financial risk, boost your savings

Living on the financial edge is a way of life for many. Now add federal employees to the list.

A quick look at 3 strategies for making your money last in retirement

Figuring out how to manage household income once you are no longer working isn't easy.

Even if you think like Homer Simpson, you can tackle retirement planning

Take your time if the prospect of retirement is coming closer. Think long about what you want out of the last third of life.

You can't time the market, you can manage your financial risk

Investors are worried about mounting evidence that the global economy is slowing down.

Before making money resolutions, talk it out with friends, family

The end of the year and the beginning of the new year is a good time for thinking about what we did with our money…

Changing tax laws puts spotlight on charitable giving option

It's the time of year when many taxpayers turn to funding their charitable giving before year-end. The tax code has allowed taxpayers who itemize to…

FIRE devotees are confusing being cheap with being frugal

The Financial Independence, Retire Early movement is getting much attention in the personal finance world, but there are less extreme ways to live a life of purpose and sound finances.

Rent or buy? How the housing slowdown affects your answer

Even when the housing market slows, buyers and sellers are always looking to make a deal.
A community Thanksgiving meal was held outside the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct station in 2015.

It's time to give thanks and find ways to give back

Despite the best efforts of marketers, Thanksgiving is still focused on celebrating family, friends, neighborhood and community.

Why retirees are opting to stick closer to home

The housing market is changing for Americans living in their retirement years.The popular image of the typical retiree household is moving to an adult retirement…
You want to add to retirement savings, not subtract: The 401(k) loan isn’t a good way to borrow.

Why you should resist borrowing from your 401(k)

A recent scholarly paper suggests too many workers are taking advantage of the option.

Worried about the stock market? Shift focus to reducing debt

If my casual conversations are any indication, many near retirees are nervous about the increased volatility in the stock market. Should they sell? Stay the…

What's wrong with spending money on children and grandchildren?

What is a better way to spend savings?

Keep your investments simple, and you will reap the benefits

Complex financial products come with risks difficult to understand, and many charge high fees.
Graduates line up to enter The Shed at Tanglewood in Lenox, Ma. for the 2017 Berkshire Community College graduation ceremony on Friday, June 2, 2017.

College is still a wise investment, but choose carefully

The experience of the past decade suggests much of the conventional wisdom about the value of a college education remains correct.
FILE - In this Jan. 19, 1993 file photo, singer Aretha Franklin performs at the inaugural gala for President Bill Clinton in Washington.

How to get started on making a will

Of course, you know you should have a will. Then why do so many people procrastinate on getting a will?

Looking to shore up your finances? Consider I-bonds

No one knows when the next recession will hit or how bad the downturn will be when it arrives, so shore up your finances now.

Investors need to hedge their bets to fend off hackers

What we can do as individuals is limited.

Financial planning often turns on how choices are framed

The importance of framing financial decisions was a theme at this month's 2018 Retirement Research Consortium meeting in Washington D.C.