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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
Many Americans don't have a "rainy day" fund for emergencies, despite the percentage of those that did peaking during the pandemic.

Don't be one of many Americans without 'rainy day fund' for emergencies

A Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis survey showed as of October 2023, just more than half of U.S. adults had enough savings to cover three months of expenses if they lost their primary source of income, down slightly from a year before and substantially below the pandemic high.
A model home in the Summerlin neighborhood of Woodbury. ] AARON LAVINSKY ï Home sales in the Twin Cities metro dur

The housing market is leveling: Buyers, time to put your finances in order

Since you can't predict the future course of home prices, potential homebuyers should focus on what they can control: Their money.

Congratulations, graduates. Now it's time to come up with a financial plan.

You should start saving with your first paycheck, especially with today's work life of multiple jobs.
Social Security’s trust fund can pay benefits in full only until 2033, according to the 2024 Trustees Report. Once that date of funding depletion co

The clock is running on finding a fix for the Social Security system

Social Security's trust fund can pay benefits in full only until 2033, according to the 2024 Trustees Report. Once that date of funding depletion comes, Social Security will pay only 79% of promised benefits.
Furniture designer/maker Willie Willette holds a miniature model of a custom walnut chair at his wood shop and studio in Minneapolis in 2018.

Making a living as an artisan is hard but not impossible with financial planning

Becoming a furniture-maker or blacksmith can be a passion pursuit as well as a lucrative career if you keep money matters in mind.
Personal finances and the good life should feed off and reinforce each other.

Keeping personal finances simple can improve your well-being

Practical steps include automating the movement of money from checking into savings accounts, similar to automatic withdrawals from your earnings into retirement savings at work.
President Joe Biden departs after recently delivering remarks on student loan debt at Madison College in Madison, Wis.

Biden's new income-driven repayment plan could be boon for those with student loans

SAVE (Saving on a Valuable Education) changes the definition of discretionary income to increase the number of low-income borrowers eligible for $0 payments and subsidizes any unpaid interest that remains after a borrower makes a payment.
The FTC said people lost more than $10 billion to fraud in 2023, up from $3.5 billion in 2020. The loss numbers will rise in future years as artificia

These three simple reminders can help you avoid a scam

The Federal Trade Commission said people lost more than $10 billion to fraud in 2023, up from $3.5 billion in 2020.
Age discrimination by Jon Krause/NewsArt

Chris Farrell: Ageism shouldn't prevent retirement-age people from working

Whether and how to earn an income is critical to retirement planning, and for employers, older workers are a valuable asset to keep and to hire.
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

Farrell: Having traditional and Roth savings gives you tax-savvy options in retirement

If your income will be lower in retirement than when you were working, you'd favor traditional retirement savings. Roth is better for the reverse. Since you don't know, the advantage of having both is flexibility.
GLEN STUBBE � -- March 26, 2008 -- As the U.S. economy deteriorates and millions wrestle with questions about their falterin

Chris Farrell: Be skeptical of new retirement-saving strategies

Many experts have published different ways to save through the years, but none seems to beat standard advice.
FILE- In this Monday, July 18, 2011, file photo, Warren Buffett is interviewed in the White House Briefing Room in Washington, following a meeting wit

Chris Farrell: Warren Buffet's annual wisdom-sharing full of personal finance advice

Berkshire Hathaway is the seventh-largest U.S. company with a market capitalization of nearly $900 billion, but lessons from its founder are still relatable.
Three business people examining graphs on the screen of digital tablet. istock

Chris Farrell: Productivity growth has led to our economic growth

Productivity growth is a key measure of economic prosperity, job creation, innovation and quality of life for individuals and society.

Chris Farrell: America's retirement system is failing too many people

The lack of savings doesn't reflect the lure of shopping on credit or a lack of financial education. Instead, too many workers live on low and unstable incomes, while too many moderate-income families struggle to pay their bills.
The investment data company Morningstar reports that passive funds closed 2023 with more assets than actively managed funds for the first time. Their

Chris Farrell: Index funds can help you reach your retirement goals

The so-called "passive" investment revolution is a smart way for individuals to invest for the long haul despite critics' arguments.

Beware of Bitcoin investing

Cryptocurrencies are speculations without any intrinsic value.
Savings accounts should be part of the financial plan.

Cash savings deserve more respect

Savings accounts need to be part of a healthy financial plan.

Make caregiving a financial priority

Few of us have sufficient resources to rely solely on savings for dealing with children or aging adults coping with mental and physical infirmities.

Finding your purpose for everyday living

The fundamentals of personal finance are especially important during major transitions.
Roughly one in five Americans 65 years and older were employed in 2023.

There are benefits to working at an older age

Instead of thinking about retirement, try exploring what portfolio of activities comes next.

There is more to charitable giving than a tax break

When we give away money, we're actively showing what matters to us.
There are factors to weigh on whether to keep your money in your employer-sponsored 401(k) after you retire.

Farrell: When you retire, should you keep your money with your employer's 401(k) plan?

There are several factors to weigh, and current research on when it may be a good idea.
Any reform must include greatly expanding the supply of housing options.

Farrell: The American housing market is broken

The need for more affordable-housing options is now part of a much larger conversation about economic development, economic growth and quality of life.
The so-called retirement years (better yet, unretirement years) often include activities that may include a mix of volunteering, grandparenting, leisu

4% rule for retirees has serious drawbacks

Build flexibility into your safe withdrawal strategy.

Saver's Credit: Take advantage of this saving tool

Cropped shot of a female caregiver comforting a senior woman

Caregivers need more social and financial support

Financial planning increasingly means taking the time to build into future scenarios the prospect of needing long-term care from family or close friends.
It’s hard not to become overwrought looking at your retirement account these days.

If you didn't save for retirement when young, is it too late?

You can't go back in time, but there's no reason for despair.
Crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried, now on trial, epitomizes the reason for untested retirement options such as crypto to be a big part of your savings.

Cryptocurrency is too volatile for it to be a big part of your retirement plan

Boring is a virtue in retirement savings; the tried and true vehicles are used a lot for good reason.

Social Security an important benefit for most retirees

Happy romantic senior African American man and woman couple walking holding hands on a deserted tropical beach.

Make sure you are spending enough in retirement

Many retirees who consistently saved over the years spend less than they might in retirement.

An early look at Medicare enrollment

Autumn season time, retro vintage alarm clock in dry fall leaves.

Staying the course isn't always easy

Why trading is hazardous to your wealth and managing risk is critical.

Start saving early for retirement

Employers are in a unique position to increase the financial literacy and money decision making of their employees.

Chris Farrell: Employers can help increase financial understanding

Skills can be improved with education on the job.

Always be prepared for the risks

Harry Markowitz, an economist who launched a revolution in finance, upending traditional thinking about buying stocks and earning the Nobel in economi

Savers owe plenty to Nobel laureate Harry Markowitz

He encouraged investors to focus on diversification, while adjusting the mix of assets for risk.
New graduates walked into a graduation ceremony at Rutgers University in New Jersey in 2018.

Prepare now to pay back student loans

Financial targeting of elderly citizens continues to grow

Making sense of 'opportunity cost'

Economic concepts can help with financial decisions.
Rob Kirby, left, author of the graphic memoir “Marry Me a Little,” with his husband and longtime partner John Capecci.

Farrell: How do you know if downsizing in retirement is right for you?

Many ambivalent thoughts, captured perfectly in Rob Kirby's "Marry Me a Little."
The Secure 2.0 Act provides for direct government contributions to retirement accounts for low- and moderate-income workers, though that won’t start

Farrell: There's a new way for low- and moderate-income workers to save for retirement

Word is still getting out about the new benefits of the saver's credit.
Introspection and resolutions can create financial payoffs.

Chris Farrell: Forget the humbug over New Year's resolutions because they can pay off

Settle on a priority because time is a scarce commodity.
Donations of food, toys and money rise during holiday season at community organizations.

Farrell: Generosity is the best investment in community you can make

Whether you give time or money.
It’s the time of year to align giving and investing habits.

Chris Farrell: How to sort through the clamor of ESG investing

The holidays are a time when some investors comb through portfolios to make sure they align with their values.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the chief executive of FTX, at a conference in Nassau, Bahamas, in April. FTX said on Nov. 11 that it was filing for bankruptcy.

Chris Farrell: Runs on crypto, no surprise there

While trillions of dollars of investors' money has disappeared in crypto, there still hasn't been a "Lehman moment."
Only about 1 in 10 actively managed mutual funds outperformed passive competitors over a 10-year period, Morningstar found. File photo of trading spec

Chris Farrell: Even after a volatile trading period, fees matter for most investors

Passive funds work best for many investors, helped by their low fees.
Leonard Nimoy, left, as Mr. Spock; William Shatner center, as Capt. Kirk, and De Forest Kelly as Dr. McCoy in the TV and movie franchise “Star Trek.

Chris Farrell: With credit card rates soaring, will logic or emotion help you reduce debt?

Star Trek's dueling approach to every challenge charts a path to financial salvation today.
The market is already anticipating a recession, and so are many economists.

Chris Farrell: As recession looks more likely, there are steps to prepare for the worst

The risk that counts is losing your job. Here's what to do just in case.
The Social Security Administration announced last week that beneficiaries will get an 8.7% cost of living increase in January.

Chris Farrell: After the big raise in Social Security pay, it's time for proper funding

Policymakers need to remove the threat of insolvency for the foundation of America's retirement system.
Ray Dalio in 2019.

Farrell: Cash may not be king, but it's not trash either

Cash is an easy and cheap way to protect an investment portfolio or a family against financial crisis.
The importance of researching options for Medicare open enrollment

The importance of researching options for Medicare open enrollment

Few people take advantage of the Medicare open enrollment season, which is quickly approaching, but researching your choices is well worth the time and effort.
Thanks to the pandemic and record low unemployment, many workers are re-examining their relationship to work.

Farrell: Rethinking work is fine as long as you consider the financial effects

Quiet quitters is the latest buzzword for people who are considering all their options.
Joseph Coughlin, head of the MIT AgeLab, notes that retirees at 65 still have one-fourth of their life to live.

Farrell: Build a retirement with several purposes

Retiring from a full-time job leaves a person with 2,500 hours to fill in a year.
Student debt activists rallied outside the White House last month after President Biden announced a loan forgiveness plan.

Farrell: What to do with savings after your student debt is reduced

Lottery winners tend to save their windfall. So should the beneficiaries of student debt relief.
Investment fees matter, especially over the long haul.

Farrell: With investment fees, small differences add up over time

It's one of the simplest ways for investors to boost returns.
Rubble atop Troublesome Creek in Perry County in Kentucky after flash floods killed at least 28 people and left dozens missing.

Farrell: Rising costs of natural disasters hit retirees harder

The extra costs and added health and safety risks should be factored into retirement planning.
Build a budget and then use that information to form a financial plan.

Farrell: To cope with inflation, go back to basics and learn to budget

A budget lets you seize control over financial chaos.
The housing shortage in the Twin Cities will take years to fix.

Turn garages into cottages, and other steps to fix Twin Cities' broken housing market

Chris Farrell says efforts to end the distorted Twin Cities housing market should account for the region's aging population.
Frugality is a mindset that goes way beyond clipping coupons.

Chris Farrell: Frugal people are always interesting, especially in a time like now

A frugal mindset calls for a greater focus on quality, not quantity.
Debt, particularly from credit cards, is one of the risks to solid retirement planning.

Chris Farrell: Three risks that stand out in retirement planning

Too much debt, not enough income and a home that costs too much can be trouble for retirees.
Most retirees should find themselves in decent financial circumstances.

Do retirement warnings go too far?

People are creative about solving problems when income changes. And while experts recommend saving over $1 million, retirement also represents a change in lifestyle.
Higher interest rates are creating a fundamental shift in investing strategy. But they’re great for savers.

Chris Farrell: A fundamental change in interest rates is taking hold

For four decades, bond yields have been falling. But the fight against inflation is changing all that.
On a recent walk, an old friend asked our columnist: Where are the underappreciated opportunities?

Chris Farrell: Amid the gloomy news, an old friend can revive your soul

When things look bad, take a look around for underappreciated opportunities.
If you want to speculate in cryptocurrency, use money from taxable accounts.

Chris Farrell: As crypto inches to the mainstream, caution remains the watchword

Use money you can afford to lose, not retirement funds, to invest in cryptocurrencies, our columnist suggests.
Planting, tending and bequeathing to the next generation is the essential human project.

Chris Farrell: Building a legacy is an essential project

Thinking about legacy involves acting on practicalities such as writing wills and health care directives.
College graduates should start their careers in exploration mode — and with an eye on their finances.

Farrell: For college graduates, it's a time to explore life and make smart money moves

Stretch out school loans for the moment, save what you can and build the habit of generosity.
Kerry Hannon, author of “In Control at 50+: How to Succeed in the New World of Work”

Chris Farrell: Even in a tight job market, late-career job seekers need an extra hand

The pandemic made workers of all ages rethink their goals and priorities, author Kerry Hannon writes.
Fidelity will soon allow 401(k) savers to put some of their investment into Bitcoin under certain conditions. Columnist Chris Farrell says it’s a ba

Chris Farrell: It's too early to use retirement savings to speculate in cryptocurrency

Fidelity's decision to let 401(k) savers put some of their investment in bitcoin is highly risky, our columnist says.
How real is the risk that investment returns will be low in coming years? Shown is the Fearless Girl statue in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

Farrell: Should you worry about the prospect of low investment returns?

How much you spend in retirement may lessen with age

How much you spend in retirement may lessen with age

The 4% inflation-adjusted spending rule might be too conservative for near-retirees.
After March inflation data emerges, the rate on I-Bonds for the next six months will be set.

Farrell: With I-Bond rate adjustment due soon, another reason emerges to consider them

I-Bonds are a hedge against inflation and a popular option for savings in any diversified portfolio.
Only about 40% of Americans believe they’re on track with retirement savings, the Federal Reserve reports.

Farrell: Think you've waited too long to start saving for retirement? Here's what to do

Most people are in this boat, and there are plenty of ways to get ready for retirement.
Experiences shape how people think about money.

Farrell: The nation could be returning to a habit from the 1970s

No, it's not lava lamps nor shag carpeting. It's saving money.
The fundamentals of personal finance are particularly useful in times of stress and uncertainty.

Chris Farrell: When the world turns chaotic, money management should be boring

The fundamentals of managing personal finances are especially useful in times of uncertainty.