Color of Money Live

Mar 27, 2014

On Thursday, March 27 at noon ET, join Washington Post nationally syndicated personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary for an online discussion.

Her guest will be Crystal Paine, author of March's Color of Money Book Club pick, "Say Goodbye to Survival Mode." In the book, Paine offers nine simple strategies to stress less, sleep more, and restore your passion for life.

Send your money questions in early.

-- Today's Color of Money e-newsletter: The Price is Wring --The trap of payday loans can lead to triple-digit interest rates

-- Put your estate plan on paper before it's too late

-- March's Color of Money Book Club pick: "Say Goodbye to Survival Mode"

Thank you so much for joining me today. It's me and I'm live (or if you view the transcript later, not so live).

I'm very grateful when people take time to join the chat. Couldn't do it without you. I welcome questions and comments.

I would also like to say toreaders all across the country who have emailed me about my mother, who was critically injured recently in a fire in her home, thank you for your kind words and prayers. I haven't been able to respond to the many notes but thank you for reaching out. She's still critical and everyday she's alive gives us hope. If you didn't read my column from Sunday, please do. I wrote about the importance of having your affairs in order. Don't  put it off any longer. 

So let's get started.

Oh and forgot to remind you, I have a guest today just in case you didn't see the intro. 

Joining me is Crystal Paine, author of March's Color of Money Book Club pick, "Say Goodbye to Survival Mode." In her book, Paine offers nine strategies to stress less, sleep more, and restore your passion for life. 

Why are these not usurious? I'[m not a big fan of increasing governmental power, but the Fed Govt has made it ilegal to give these to military service personnel Two of my kids have gotten ensnared in this trap, and I really wish the Fed Govt woukd totally prohibit them.

 

The trap of payday loans can lead to triple-digits interest rates

I'm not sure why the government hasn't shut this down or curtailing it as it has done for military folks.

Payday loans are bad. And I try to discourage people from using them.

Hi Michelle and Crystal, How do you combat the "it's never enough" mindset? I'm mid-30's, have a 6 month emergency account, car is paid off, over 60k in retirement, and less than 9k left to go on student loan. But then I read about people my age who are in a much better financial position and I panic. I feel like I will have to work in a high-stress job until I'm in my 70's just to retire. Gah!

You are doing a GREAT job -- be encouraged with that! I think it's so easy to focus on where others are instead of celebrating the progress that we're making ourselves, you know? Comparison is truly the thief of joy!

Can I just encourage you to keep doing what you are doing? Keep plugging along. Don't look at where others are, but keep your eyes focused on where you are headed. Continue to take tiny steps in the right direction and track your success -- even if it seems small. Those tiny successes can add up to a life completely transformed over time!

Love what Crystal said.

Also, take it from me. A lot of people you think are doing better than you aren't. They put on a good show but behind closed doors their finances are a hot mess. Trust. I've seen it many, many times.

How do I listen to Michelle's 12:00 discussion?

I'm so sorry. Right not the chat is text only. Maybe one day we can do it with voice and streaming video.

Hi Michelle! In an effort to save more money, one place where my husband and I really want to cut back is eating out. We've made a conscious effort to bring lunch to work, which seems to be helping, but I still don't see a huge difference in what we're spending on food per month. It's just the two of use and I feel like we're spending a ton on food. We need to eat, but do you have any strategies or tips on cutting down how much we spend on food?

You might need to go to the envelope system. Take out in cash what you budget allows for food and in your case going to the grocery store. Only spend what's in teh envelope. When the money is gone, it's rice and beans, beans and rice as financial guru Dave Ramsey says. The thing is lots of people still spend a lot and don't eat out. They just overspend at the grocery store. Now to also make this work, you have to shop from a list. Plan out your menus and what you want to buy and then don't buy any more than you need. 

Michelle, my heart went out to you upon reading about your mother's situation and the related difficulties for her family. Thanks for sharing another personal story in order to help thousands of readers out there.

 

Put your estate plan on paper before its too late

Thank you so much. I can't begin to tell you how much more stressful this ordeal is because my mother didn't have her affairs in order. I tried but she just wouldn't share information or do a will or put anything in place. But I understand. She was scared of losing control. 

However, it's making things much more difficult for me and my sisters at a time when we are so very worried about her surviving. 

Please, please, please get a will, a living will, medical power of attorney, power of attorney for your financial affairs, etc. 

I've been having a high level of stress recently -- really high. Several factors are at play with job loss and money struggles being the main ones. I fall asleep and wake to these issues....and I mean they're the absolute last and first things I think about! It's gotten to the point where I'm taking it out on my kids and spouse. Nothing physical, no way, but the slightest things set me off. I really feel like I'm taking it out on them. Please give me a suggestion on how to get out of this funk.Thanks.

{Hugs!} I am SO sorry you're dealing with so much stress!

My first encouragement to you would be to say "no" to anything and everything that's not an absolute necessity in your life right now. Cut everything you can cut when it comes to schedule clutter and commitments.

Then, set some really small goals. Think about one or two small things you could do in the next six weeks that will make an impact in your life -- maybe going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, eating better, taking time to do something you love, making time for exercise, etc. Pick one or two things that will only take you 15 minutes a day and commit to doing these every single day for the next six weeks.

You might feel like this won't make much of a difference, but making little changes and sticking with them can have a trickle down effect on everything. And once you've developed one or two small habits, add in something else and work on making that a habit.

Even if you make only 4 small changes every year -- over 10 years, that's 40 changes and that will transform your life!

I'd also highly recommend having an appointment with your doctor to make sure that something isn't out of balance physically.

Also: I'd love to send you a copy of my new book as I believe it could really encourage you right now. Email your mailing address to crystal@moneysavingmom.com.

May I also add how so sorry I am. So many people are in the same position as you.

If you still have health insurance through your spouse see if there is coverage for behavioral health and if so, make an apt with a counselor. It helps to talk this out with a mental health professional.

If you don't have affordable access to a therapist are you a member of a church or other religious organization where you can talk to a minister or someone skilled at helping people during this type of stressful situation.

Sometimes you can't do it on your own and it's ok to seek help. 

Michelle, I love your columns - I don't always agree with your advice, but you are consistent and honest with people and I respect that. I just made my final student loan payment. Almost 10 years since I graduated college--finally! I owe no credit card debt, car debt, loan debt, nothing. woot woot! I've been waiting to share this on this chat for a long time. It feels really good just to type this now - Happy Debt Free Thursday!!

FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST.

I'm woot wooting right along with you. 

I can feel the joy. Thank you for sharing your testimony. It's such a great feeling to get that debt monkey off your back. Congrats.

Hi Michelle, I love your column! I'm 23 and about 2 years out of school, I have a 2 month emergency fund and small "life happens" fund, and have already paid off about 12K of my student loans (18K to go). One problem I have, though, is that I come from a very poor family, and I have found that my emergency fund has also become a "life happens" fund for my family who all live paycheck to paycheck. I'm happy to give them money as needed, but I'm worried about what would happen if I have an emergency. How much extra should I put into my fund to account for their "life happens" moments? My fiance (whom I live with) also has a 4 month emergency fund. I don't want to save more than necessary because I want to get my student loans paid off asap, but I also always want to have enough money to help in a tight spot.

Wow, bravo to you for helping your family. I mean that. I believe to whom much is given, much is required.

Now having said that, I need to caution you a bit. Sometimes it's better not to enable folks if the choices they are making are causing them to be financially irresponsible. And when you help them you may be getting in the way of them helping themselves or learning how NOT to live paycheck to paycheck. You see if they get their cell phone turned off or the lights turned off or even have to move in with someone else they may change their ways. Falling sometimes helps people up out of bad habits.

Havings said all that, why don't you budget for family help. Create a small savings pot to help people you think really need the help because life is just tough. But when that money is gone stop giving. 

Now as for your student loans, I would stop saving since you have a good cushion and devote all extra money to getting rid of the rest of the student loans.

And when you, come back and share your testimony.

If I go to bed at midnight or l am, my body wakes up at 6 am. My body will never sleep past 6 am. If I go to bed at 10 pm, , my body wakes up at 4 am. How can I get more sleep. I do take short naps as I get very tired during the day. What do you recommend. Many thanks. Karen Paull

Hi, Karen!

A few suggestions:

1) Exercise. It's amazing how regular exercise can help you sleep better. Try adding this into your schedule in the morning or mid-day and see if it makes a difference in your sleep at night.

2) Make sure you're not eating/drinking anything in the afternoons/evenings that is hindering you from getting good sleep.

3) Try drinking herbal calming teas -- Sleepytime is especially good.

4) Make yourself lie in bed with your eyes closed for 45 minutes after you wake up -- even if you don't feel tired. Sometimes, you'll go back to sleep even if you didn't think you could.

5) Read Sleep: It Does a Body Good by Archibald Hart -- great advice and ideas in it.

Hi Michelle- I just read your article. Thanks for such an important reminder, and best wishes to your mother and your entire family. I moved to DC this past summer. I have a will and an advanced directive from my prior state. Do I need to get updated documents for DC, or are the other ones still valid? I rent an apartment and don't have a car, so I don't have any physical assets here in DC. All my bank accounts were opened in the other state. Thank you.

Good question. I'm not sure. But how about making an apt. with an attorney, an hour will probably do to have the person take a look at what you got and see if there's anything you need to do to update the document. 

When my husband died, I made sure all this paperwork was done for me to make it easier for my kids.....but I've been in the hospital twice in a year and my medical power of attorney is still in the safe deposit box (to which the kids are joint holders). So, doing this paperwork includes making it accessible to the medical people when needed.

Right.

Or making sure people know where it is and can get it. 

I see a lot of people with documents but then their kids or relatives don't know where they are. If you get a safety deposit box, make sure someone can get to it.

Crystal can you share with us some of the strategies you discuss in your book about finance and how they relate to sleeping more and restoring the passion for life?

Hi, there!

My book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, is about practical steps you can take to pull up out of the pit of being stuck in survival mode and how to find the energy and passion that comes from living life on purpose. It's more about living all of life intentionally than just about living intentionally with your money (though that is one of the chapters as I'm very passionate about being wise with one's money!)

A few of the key principles I talk about in the first few chapters:

1. Say No -- we women are so good at saying "yes" to all sorts of things because we feel obligated or because we feel like if we don't do it, no one will. In the process, we become stretched too thin, exhausted, and overwhelmed. I believe it's highly important to become a pro at saying no to the mediocre so you can say yes to the best!

2) Create a Best Stuff List -- when you start saying "no" to the the things that are necessities, it clears out space in your schedule (and in your brain!), to be able to step back and really determine what's going to matter in 25 years from now. I outline in the book how to create what I call a "Best Stuff List" -- a list of the few things that are true priorities in my life right now and that I want to wrap my time and energy around. And then every opportunity that comes, I hold it up against the Best Stuff List to see if it's in line with it. If it's not, I can guiltlessly say no because I know that it will only distract me from my priorities.

These two principles have changed my life -- and allowed me to not only live with much more intention, but also have allowed me to sleep better and have much more passion for life!

Buy whole chickens, and break them down yourself. If you use the back for chicken noodle soup you can get 5-6 meals out of something that's usually tossed. If you don't serve them in one piece you can usually get 2+ servings out of each breast....etc.

Thanks for the tip.

A lot of people do well with a weekly menu plan, savingdinner.com. These put your whole weekly plan together for you in a cost-consious type way and they don't take long to cook (that's part of the approach). You get the menu, shopping list and recipes. She thinks things through so sunday's roast turns into tuesdays tacos etc. I love to cook, so haven't used them but people swear they're easy to cook and save tons of money. I heard of her through flylady and would think she's um ... kosher!

You guys are great with the tips. I may try this myself.

I know the cell phone has become the symbol of frivolous spending, but the friend in the column today who paid her cell phone bill with the money her friend gave her, thereby offending the friend: A lot of jobs expect you to have a cell phone. School expects you to have one so they can contact you in case of emergency. I can see suggesting people get the cheapest one they can, but it's not just a toy any more.

 

A Friend in Need: What's your responsibility?

You make a good point especially if there isn't a "house" phone.

Another big money saver is to effectively manage your pantry and freezer. Label leftovers (like cooked chicken) with the date, and then keep track of what you've got. When you plan your weekly menu, think about what you've got on hand, and use that. Don't overbuy stuff on sale. It's no savings if you throw something away because it expired before you could eat it.

Yes! I so agree with this!

Using what you have instead of buying something new is one of the best ways to save money!

One thing that has helped me is to plan my menu based upon what I have on hand and what is on sale at the store. So when I plan my menu, I first look through my cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer to see what ingredients I already have that might be the start of a meal. I then also look at the store fliers to see what's on a great sale at the store (you can often find the store fliers in the paper or most stores have them available online, too).

I love to use the ingredient search feature from AllRecipes.com to get inspiration -- you can type in what items you have on hand and what ingredients you don't have on hand and it will generate a list of recipe ideas.

Love it.

Also, in my family about once of twice a week we have "Leftover Night." What often happens is we have enough leftovers for one or two people. But we are a family of five (or four now that my oldest is off at college). So now on leftover night I pull out the stuff from various meals, some older than others. I lay it all out for the various full meals (turkey, rice and beans and maybe a pork chop, noodles and salad, etc.) They I yell "leftover night" and watch in much humor as the kids and my husband scramble to be the first in the kitchen cuz the first people get the best pickins' 

It's so funny, fun and helps clean out my frig.

Are questions that were submitted earlier this morning still being considered for this chat, or have you already chosen the ones you deem relevant. Thanks.

So I try to look for questions people say they submitted early or submitted because the person couldn't join live.

I may miss some, but I try. If you have a specific question you submitted early and I haven't notice send it again or send it to me at michelle.singletary@washpost.com. I would not want to send anyone away unhappy. I'm here to help.

And with your list at the grocery store, bring coupons and shop sales. I keep a running list of pantry items and if I see only a box or two of pasta left, one or two cans of tomatoes, I keep an eye open for sales. Never run out, never pay full price. I also buy frozen meals on sale (Lean Cuisine type) so there are a few in the freezer to bring for lunch, if I don't have leftovers or salad makings to bring.

Yes! Great ideas!

One thing I've found to be helpful is to plan my menus based upon what I have on hand and what is on sale at the store. You can then to take your grocery list and check a Coupon Database to see if there are any coupons available for items you're already planning to buy (we have a coupon database here: http://moneysavingmom.com/print-coupons/coupon-database).

On a Coupon Database, you can type in the brand name or the item name of anything you're already planning to buy and it will generate a list of any printable coupons that are available for that item. So by taking a few minutes to check your grocery list items on the Coupon Database, you can usually save at least a few dollars on things you were already planning to buy! In my opinion, that's not a bad "hourly wage" to save a few dollars for a few minutes of your time!

You just answered my question online. Thanks! Crystal - I will email you my address. Love the advice, especially on the small steps. I like the approach of long-term goal achievement with short-term incremental changes. Michelle - I appreciate the suggestion about seeking help. I've been thinking about it and maybe needed to hear it from someone like you. Take care!

Oh wonderful.

So glad we could help. 

If the poster who wrote in asking how he/she could sleep more, if the suggestions that were offered don't help, then I think that the poster should talk to their doctor about getting a sleep study done. There may be underlying medical issues that are interrupting a good night's sleep. It's worth the money to ensure that you get enough rest!

Good point thanks.

My friend, who could afford a cell phone plan, has a paye one. She almost never uses it so it's incredibly cost effective. She's done this for years. I think it's Virgin. When she bought it the guy thought it was for her daughter! This is a great way to go when jobhunting et. You don't need a smartphone - just let people know the best way to get you if they need a response is to call you and you get to e-mails every evening so they don't expect to hear back from you within the hour.

Right. If money is tight get the most basic plan and yes that may mean not having all the bells, etc.

My husband and I just started doing the exact same thing. What worked for us was that we used Mint to monitor our finances so we could see how much we were regularly spending on food/restaurants altogether, before we curbed our eating out. From that we made a realistic budget (i.e. $100 on groceries per week), and then planned to make big meals for the week over the weekend. We didnt see the actual decrease in spending until a month later (when the deductions from previous month adjust).

Right!

I love that you said "realistic" budget. If you don't do that, you will bust your budget and then think the process doesn't work.

Thanks.

Please, please don't put original wills, power of attorneys, or advance directives in your safe deposit box, even if you give a key to another person. The key and/or the location of the box is likely to be misplaced, just when it is needed. Leave the sealed originals somewhere in your home or with a family member. That way, they are much more likely to be available to your family or doctor when needed.

I see your point.

By the way, really have a sit down with the folks you've designated to take care of things. Get everyone together and talk to tem together. All our people know but we need to tell them together and show them exactly where everything is in case someone forgets. 

Also folks, don't forget to let people know where to find the passwords to your phones, devices, computer, where you are likely to keep contact numbers. 

To add to your response: In the Wednesday Post, there are ads from grocery stores showing what is on sale (either starting that day or starting that Friday). One of the stores almost always had a $10 off coupon. Other stores (at least that "big" one) takes competitor coupons so that's a savings right there. Use the ad to see what foods are on sale. Plan your menu based on what's on sale, make the list based on what you need, and buy what's on your list. But remember, just because it's on sale, it might not save money. Sure, the imported brand-name cheese is 1/2 off but it's still more expensive than the store-brand domestic and they taste the same. Or if it's something you won't normally buy and probably won't use, only 100% off is a good deal. Otherwise, you're spending money on something you don't need.

Such great advice! Just because something is a good deal does not mean it's a good deal for you.

And this is why a grocery budget is so important. You can spend a lot of time chasing all sorts of deals and bargains, but end up spending a lot more money than you usually would all while buying things you don't need or won't use.

I love your advice to have a plan and work the plan!

Oh I love, love this caution Crystal.

So many people brag that they coupon shop but are you really saving money if you have to buy 3 bottles of something when you only need one?

About a month before my father died, a check was written on one of his accounts for a significant amount, about which he said nothing to me. I requested a copy of the cancelled check, which showed it was written to a car dealer in another state (close by to him) and the memo field showed the make and model. There was nothing that indicated who bought the car, but the signature does look like my dad's. The car dealer won't release the name of the buyer without a subpoena, and the local police won't make a report so that I can request one there. They say it's a civil matter. I am executor of his estate. (I have suspicions of who may have bought the car, but cannot prove without this information.) Do you have any suggestions? I am not the sole heir.

Best to contact an estate planning attorney to see your options. But you also have to figure out if there's anything you can do. If your father bought the car before he died for someone there may not be anything you can do. 

I am a big fan of buying bulk groceries but then I end up forgetting what's in my freezer/cabinets. About every other month I pick a week and only eat what I have already bought. Sometimes I get some strange combinations but it all tastes good and my grocery bill is practically nothing for a whole week! Things like slow cookers and cooking classes should be viewed as an investment!

It's so easy to forget to use what we have on hand, isn't it?! And I love your solution to this!

We make it a challenge at our house on occasion to see how long we can go without going to the store. We've found that when we approach it as a sort of "game" it makes it fun and it inspires us to be more creative! We might eat some rather interesting meals for a few days, but it's always amazing how much food we have hiding in nooks and crannies in our cupboards and freezer!

In my family, we each have a fire-safe box in our hall closet with a list of passwords, our will, a list of accounts, and lots of important paperwork (copies of passports and the like). We know if something ever happens, that is where to go to get what you need.

Make sure someone has the key or combination!

Hope your Mom continues to do better and better, Michelle! My stepfather is ill, and it might be terminal--he's never let anyone, including his spouse, look at his financial records and unless he undergoes a big personality change never will. He has no will. I can guess at some things, as he has a good city job and the benefits info is public--mandatory life as well as 401K and good health insurance. But what else can we do to prepare him/his spouse financially? Just keep talking to him and trying to get him to share at least the basics with us?

Just keep talking. Check out my column for Sunday when it comes out. I'm reviewing a book about this very issue. I begged my mother to put something in place. She refused. My sister and I begged her to move out of her home, which had lots of issues. She refused. 

All you can do is keep trying. Point out stories like mine. Build trust. Keep talking and maybe he will come around. Also point out if he's a frugal person that without a lot of the paperwork or direction or power his estate and maybe even you can be out a lot of money trying to put things in order after he dies (or even before if he becomes unable to handle his own affairs because of a illness.)

If I may brag one time. I bring frozen dinners to work for lunch. A few weeks ago, a store had Healthy Choice on sale at 5 for $10. $2 lunches is a great deal. However, the store also had a sale that if you spend $25 or more on products from this manufacturer (Healthy Choice dinners included), you get $15 off right there. I bought 13 dinners for $26.00 and got $15.00 off. So my 13 lunches cost $11 in total - or $0.85 each. I constantly give a co-worker grief when he come back to the office with his $11-$15 lunches each day.

Ok, you get this one brag :)

But don't brag too much. You want to do it in way that brings people toward the penny pinching light.

Drink more tap water, and less of everything else - soda, juice, other bottled drinks, etc.

Yes!

 

It's fun to add up how much you can save over a year's time by making simple changes like drinking less soda. It can often be hundreds of dollars -- and that's a great way to fuel your motivation to make and stick with simple changes!

I am on the other end of your journey, almost. I was you back in my mid-30s, doing all the right things, but never having that wonderful certainty that I had done enough. We all have different mental tricks to play to help with the anxiety (and mine never went completely away, yet) but I viewed my financial life as moving from strong place to strong place, like an advancing army. First came getting debt free. Then, building a reserve fund, then a down payment in advance, and then buying a house in my early 40s. I had been saving for retirement all along, but after getting the house, I REALLY ramped up the retirement savings. I increased my emergency fund gradually. Now, I have a few more years left before retirement, but if things continue as they are, I will be comfortable. My next "strong place" is purchasing long term care insurance. Along the way, I gradually increased my discretionary spending too, but never as much as these various pots of savings. I haven't been able to shed the anxiety, though, so I sympathize. But don't let that stop you, and don't think that there is a perfect solution. Just keep advancing.

What a great testimony.

Thank you for sharing, especially for the folks who worry they don't have enough when they have so much more than most.

I've told several people, including my husband of course (he's uninterested in this sort of thing) that the vital docs are in the top draw of the two draw filing cabinet at the front. No need to make it difficult really - it's not like they'll be tasty for burglars.

Oh but they could be. Lots of identity theft happens from people lifting stuff from your files -- and often they are relatives.

I want to get a fireproof box. All my mothers paperwork was burned in the fire. So having it in a file cabinet would not have helped in her case.

I love this so much that I just printed it out and posted it on my bulletin board! "[Say] no to the mediocre so you can say yes to the best!" Thank you for sharing!

I'm so grateful you found that helpful. It really has transformed my life to think in terms of what's really going to matter most in 25 years from now -- and then to live my life in accordance with those priorities.

Because poor people shouldn't have access to credit?

No, poor people should not have access to the type of credit that puts them in a debt trap making a bad situation worse!

 

You write a lot about helping the poor and I love that you began a ministry at your church to help people become better managers of their OWN resources. So important, and bravo. I am curious though how you see changing social patterns as they contribute to income inequality. The growing social acceptance of single motherhood (from a child's birth, not widowed/divorced later) seems to lock children into one-income households, which obviously reduces resources for child care, shared parenting, activities, sports, and quality time with kids- the most important factor in education (as opposed to money, like so many people think). Since the government can't mandate that people who have children together get married, what do you think the solution is? The selection of a partner is a pretty personal decision, and yet so many children are suffering because of this societal trend. I read about the change over the last 30 years, and it is incredible, and seems to contribute to income inequality even more heavily than falling wages for manual workers, the ripped-off band-aid real estate gave us for a while, and other factors we tend to focus on. Anyway, I am just wondering how you approach this idea since it appears to be such a great contributor to the determination of conventional success - and stable families ie the quality of home life for children.

I wish I had more time to fully address your comments.

But this is what I do. I created a program to help people where they are. I advocate thru my column for changes in gov't and services to help people make better choices. I support programs that recoganize that people make mistakes and that when they do we have to have compassion and help them help themselves.

First they removed the proce tags from items so one is not really sure of the price since the items on the shelf are not necessarily what is on the tag. Then they don't have an easy way to view what is being rung up. Frequently the customer cannot see the screen of the items being rung up or it is small that it is unreadable. NOW stores don't want to give a receipt!!!. Whole Foods acts like I am personally destroying the environment when I ask for my receipt. Other stored act surprosed when I ask for one. I think a good part of staying our of debt is knowing what we are paying for something and the stores are making it harder and harder. How do we combat this?

 

Today's Color of Money e-newsletter: The Price is Wrong

Keep asking, pressing for the information. I'm fine to get it electronic or thu a text or whatever...but you better tell me something so I can check.

It was great to chat with you all today! Thank you for the opportunity -- and have a beautiful day!

Thank you all for your participation and for the wonderful answers from my guest. Get her book. 

I'm so sorry if I didn't get a chance to answer your question or post your comment. But I read it all and often turn them into a column. You can also send me your question to Twitter at @SingeltaryM

Take care and see you back here next week.

In This Chat
Michelle Singletary
Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, "The Color of Money," which appears in The Post on Thursday and Sunday. Her award-winning column is also carried in more than 120 newspapers. In her spare time, Singletary is the director of a ministry she founded at her church, in which women and men volunteer to mentor others who are having financial challenges.

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Crystal Paine
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