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Color of Money Live: How to manage dating and debt

May 04, 2017

Join Washington Post nationally syndicated personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary for an online discussion.

“Knowledge isn’t power. The right knowledge is power.”

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So glad you could join me today.

Today's topic: Retirement.

My guest: Michael Edesess, who is an economist and mathematician. He is one of the coauthors of "The 3 Simple Rules of Investing" and author of "The Big Investment Lie."

Let's get started.

My wife and I paid off ALL our loans (her student, and my car, credit cards are paid off monthly) !!! Now we only have a mortgage and I intend to save up my car payments as down payment for the next car and put some more money into savings, and she will be paying extra to the mortgage principal and building her savings as well (we use my income for most the most part) ! On a separate note, how do you decide when's the best time to sell your car so you actually get something out of it ?

Love this testimony!

So happy for your. 

As for the car, I have a different strategy. I don't sell any car I'm ready to get rid of. My husband and I fix it up and give it to someone in need of transportation.

And we can do this because we do what you are planning to do, which is that after you pay off a car, take those payments and keep making them to yourself so that you can buy a car outright next time. This means we don't need a trade in or money from the old car we are giving up.

Following your bliss doesn't always work out.

Read Michelle's column regarding William McPherson.

I run into a lot of people who are planning to retire early. Typically in early 50s. 

So I ask them some questions.

1. How much do you have saved?

2. Is your home paid for or near being paid off?

3. Do you have any debt outside a mortgage?

4. Do you have a plan for how you will spend down any savings?

5. Do you have a retirement budget based on any fixed income (Social Security, pension, etc.)

In most of the cases the person just stares at me like I'm crazy. 

"So  how do you know if you are ready to retire," I ask.

"I just know I'm tired of working," they respond. 

Any early retirees who wish they have planned better?

as a follow on to last week's complaint about rebates coming via gift card rather than check... A co-worker turned me on to using the rebate cards to buy Amazon gift cards and then placing those cards in my account. That way I can 'spend' it all in one place but not all at one time and then destroy the card without having to carry it around reducing it one small purchase at a time.

Good idea. Thanks for sharing. 

Just spent a bunch of money (with more expenses to come) on my first real vacation of my adult working life (I'm mid-20s) with a stable but relatively small income. I have the savings (IRA that I'll max out, emergency fund, other savings account) and don't have debt, but I'm still feeling guilty... How do you give yourself permission to spend, when the future is so unknown and scary, post-ACA and potentially post-Social Security?

Take it from me, a person who HATES to spend, when you do all the right things -- or as best you know given current situation, you should NOT feel guilty about spending on a want.

And you listed the right things

-- You are saving in an emergency fund

-- You are debt-free

-- You are saying for retirement

-- You are keeping an eye out for things to come (ACA repeal, etc.)

And since you can't know the future, if you plan wise you can do some things you want. Even if in the future you need more money don't regret spending now. 

Spend and save wise and you'll be okay. 

So I'm ordering you to have fun on your vacation! :)

I retired 2 years ago at age 70. No debts at all. I have enough in my IRAs to live, along with my social security. With the current craziness in the government, I'm concerned about the safety of my IRA money that's invested in stocks. I figure I can leave my Vanguard IRA (mutual funds) as is. But I also have an IRA with an online brokerage where I hold a number of individual stocks. I sell some of those holdings from time to time and am just keeping the proceeds in cash. What should I be doing with that money, and should I be selling more?

Predicting the future value of stocks is something that neither I nor anyone else can do with any level of certainty whatsoever. But that's not the question anyway, the question is, what would you want to do with the money if you sold the stocks -- either now or in the future? In order to make the decision whether to sell, don't do it by trying to predict whether the stocks' prices will go up or down, make the decision based on what you want to do with the money, and when. If you want to use the money now to take an expensive trip, sell the stocks. If you'll want to use it in a year or two for an expensive trip with a fixed cost, sell the stocks now to make sure you'll have the money in a year or two. On the other hand if your only use for the money would be to bequeath it to charity, keep the stocks.

I wasn't able to be a part of your chat live last week. re: being poor. I think part of the issue when people say 'shouldn't we help?' is more of 'shouldn't THE GOVT do something?' -- when in reality we have seen that they do more hurt than good. And people can help each other out (like we have been doing for millennia) without government involved. But people seem to not want to do that. re: retiring -- the whole idea of retiring is a very very recent idea. the idea that able bodied people shouldn't be working is -- um, fine I guess -- but then it seems people want someone else to be taking care of them. (since social security *is* a transfer of wealth from young people to older people). It's fine to 'retire' if one can afford it (even though it is on the backs of the younger people) -- but many cannot, and that's okay. A big problem today is the discrimination against older people -- but that *can* be changed by older people working, honestly. In China there is no retirement 'fund.' So people save 50% of their income for 'life happens and I can't work anymore.' -- that is the reality (especially in a society where you can't really have lots of kids so there's not really anyone to take care of you). Note I have NEVER EVER said that we shouldn't' help each other. We *should* help each other. These government programs, however, have created a society where we are pitting generations against each other...and also -- creating a society where 'hey, there's a program for that' -- and we *don't* help each other. That is very sad and a type of society I am sad to live in.

I appreciate your comments. Here's the thing. I think we will alway need some public safety net. Why?

Because we can't rely on the generosity of our citizens all the time. There needs to be a stable way to help people in need.

Now, we shouldn't discount or say it all should be on the government, which is why it's important that people save for themselves. 

As for Social Security, I think we need to change our language. It's not pitting young against old. It's an insurance fund -- not a savings account -- and that means some will get more than they put in. But that's how insurance works. 

Is the President Trump really considering making 401(k) contributions post tax rather than pretax? If so, I might cry. Could this really happen.

It's always possible, but highly unlikely. And if it were to happen already-existing 401(k)s like yours would be "grandfathered" -- it wouldn't affect them -- it would only affect future 401(k)s. So you can wipe away the tears as far as your 401(k) goes, but you can still cry for future 401(k) owners.

The White House came out and said 401 (k) contributions are not on the chopping table in the debate about tax reform.

 

Recently ended an engagement as a result of non compatible financial priorities and recently discovered tax debt. While I make more than he does--what he choose to spend his money on (or not) highlighted priorities that were not mine. And, it wasn't until I specifically asked, that I was told he had tax debt. That-coupled with several high dollar purchases (wants) as we were in the process of combining households (who would pay? who else) that sunk any future prospects of the relationship surviving long term. Recommend watching and waiting while protecting one's assets (unfortunately).

 

Read Michelle's latest column: Should you seriously date someone with debt?

I think you did the right thing. You did not let the idea that "love conquers all" push you into a situation where you would probably be fighting about money all the time.

For me the red flags were the lack of transparency and the continued bad spending habits. 

Debt happens. But if someone isn't working on a plan to pay it off or changing to become a better money manager it would be a deal breaker for me. 

Anybody else want to comment?

My husband and I are 30. He's a federal employee and has a substantial amount of student loan debt from law school but is enrolled in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that would forgive the debt in 10 years following qualifying payments. With this in mind, we've been prioritizing saving for retirement and all the glory that comes from compound interest. Last month the Dept. of Education made (small) waves in the news about the viability of the program long term as many more people have signed up for the program than initially imagined in 2007 when the program launched. We're about 5 years in now and are wondering if we should instead be refocusing on paying off student loans now (to avoid additional interest growth) in the event that the program is canceled as this would impact other financial considerations (kids, home purchase, retirement etc.). We haven't seen too many articles out there on the topic from this angle, which I imagine impacts a lot of millenials out there. Any thoughts on this?

The answer depends entirely on the interest rate on your husband's student loans and how it may vary in the future. I take it that to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness your husband would have to have kept up with payments during the intermediate 10 years (I'm not familiar with this program). Therefore if the rate is high, why not pay all the interest and principal that you would be paying in the next 10 years right now, then wait for 10 years to see if the remainder is forgiven.

This is really a tough question. 

So much is unknown about these programs and participation. What if a better job comes along? Or you want/need to move? 

It's also possible any change to the program would grandfather in people already approved. 

The news you were referring to was about people working for agencies or nonprofits that might not technically be allowed to do loan forgiveness. 

At any rate double check your eligibility. If it's still good, I would say stay on your current path.

 

Your column last Sunday reviewed how you funded your daughter's education, which was approx. 3/4 from 529 savings, and then she received about $22k in merit aid. What was your plan B if that level of scholarship assistance had not materialized? College applicants don't know if they'll be getting any free aid until they are accepted, which by then is rather late to come up with thousands more if the school offers nothing. What was your thinking, knowing that you had a lot of college funding saved, but not enough for 4 years ?

 

Read Michelle's column: How my daughter managed to finish college free of debt


So we had saved enough for all four years. The scholarship she won is therefore allowing us to also send her to graduate school debt-free. (We also have non-tax advantage savings in addition to retirement and 529 plans). 

We have not and are not counting on any of our children getting scholarships. So we saved for room and board, tuition and fees for four years at state school for all three kids.

To your point,I try to get parents NOT to count on scholarships because the avg. scholarship now is about $4,000 a year or less than 1% for most students. This is also true for sports scholarships. Yes, some get a full ride but many athletes  don't get a full ride. Also, many scholarships have to be renewed. What if a particular scholarship depends on your kid staying in a certain area of study but he or she wants to switch? 

 

If 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. What are the one or two most important things to focus on when planning or investing for the future?

When investing for retirement, the single most important thing to focus on is keeping the fees you pay to investment advisors (if any) and investment managers to an absolute minimum. Make sure you know what the fees are -- in dollars per year, even if they're quoted as a percentage of assets -- and keep that number as low as humanly possible, because it usually amounts to much more than you realize, and anything more than a bare minimum is money wasted.

My husband (60) is retired from one occupation and has taken up another. The new employer does not offer 401k benefits. What is the best strategy for continuing to save for retirement? We used to max out both of our 401k/403b accounts. My is still being maxed out each year....including the catch up.

You don't need a 401(k) to save, and (most people don't know this) at least half of 401(k) plans are not worth investing in anyway because their fees eat up the tax benefits. Save on your own.

You should also check to see if the old 401 (k) plan will still allow your husband to make contributions. 

If not, Michael is on point. You can still contribute outside a plan. Now the limits are lower of course but with the catchup provision your husband can still save up to $6,500

I'm engaged to someone I just learned has six-figure student debt dating back nearly a decade. She earns a modest income, is in default and is "working on" a plan. We're fortysomethings. Are her years-long secrecy about her debt and lack of a plan a recipe for future woes?

The secrecy may or may not be a recipe for future woes but the debt and lack of a plan is. Figure out what the debt is, what the interest rate is and what it will be in the future, and how to deal with it, and don't worry about the secrecy.

So the issue of secrecy depends on if she was really keeping the information from you or was only now she revealed it because you got engaged making it your problem together.

When you first are dating someone, I don't believe they owe you all the intimate details of their financial life.

But as you move into a situation where you are considering getting married and certain upon an engagement they should share every intimate detail of their finances.

If together you can handle the debt and together you have a plan, not sure this is a case where you kick the person to the curb.

But I will say this. Even if she is technically responsible for the debt, when you get married treat it as "your" debt otherwise yup stay single. 

 

So many of the retirement calculators (that are sponsored by the financial services industry who have product to sell) seem to think we need a lot of money to be able to retire, on the order of a million dollars. I am a baby boomer who lives in a Midwestern city with a moderate cost of living who will have my house paid off before retirement and will receive Social Security and a small pension. Do we really need to save that much? i think some of the calculators just try to scare people. We are on track to save about half of the million dollars.

Those retirement calculators use a set of assumptions that may or may not be correct -- including how much you will need as income in retirement, and what rate of return you'll get on your investments. Here's a better way, and one that is more real-world. Look up the price of a simple annuity -- also called an SPIA or single premium income annuity (not a variable annuity -- don't ever touch those). At each age, such as 65, 66, 67, etc., it will tell you how much monthly income $100,000 will buy. Divide the monthly income you think you'll need by that monthly income, and multiply by $100,000. That's how much you'll need to pay for an annuity to receive that income for life.

My now-husband came into our relationship with significant cc and student loan debt from bad job prospects, etc. Michelle is right in that it's the actions that show if you can handle the debt. First, we talked about it straight away. Since I came in with significant student loan debt as well, we were okay with the fact that we were paying the amount required each month. Our deal was that he get rid of the cc debt before the wedding, and he did it. He even sold his car to get rid of insurance and biked/used public transportation everywhere. And because he was jobless at the time, we got a huge tax refund, which allowed us to pay off one of my smaller student loans and a chunk of his. As long as you're on the same page with debt and you openly communicate, you can do this. Sure we started with a lot of debt, but we're happily married with kids, a house, a car, and enough money for retirement, emergencies, and the rainy day. We love you Michelle!

Love you right back!!!!

You did it exactly how I teach folks.

1. You were open with each other once you decided the relationship was headed for serious territory -- engagement and marriage

2. You didn't play a blame game. It was what it was.

3. You treated all the debt as all "your" debt.

4. You had a plan (Love that he showed he was serious and had become a better money manager by paying off the CC before you got married). 

This is how you do it!

My credit card debt is higher than comfortable. Each month we receive mailers advertising various consolidation loan programs, many advertising a lower rate than the credit card debt. Are these types of loans ever a good idea to boost credit score (low 700s) and reduce expenses long term?

The interest rate on credit card debt is about the highest there is, so almost anything else is better. But I wouldn't respond to those consolidation loan program mailers. They will require you to have collateral or they won't consolidate your debt. So if you do have collateral, either sell it and pay off your credit card debt immediately, or find another lender (your local bank?) that will give you a loan at a lower rate than the consolidators will, and use that to pay off your credit card debt immediately. Whatever you do, pay off that credit card debt immediately if humanly possible.

I agree with Michael. 

And one thing. Language matters.

You could not be paying off the credit card debt. 

You would be transferring the debt to another lender and often times spending more time paying it off.

Can I be honest?

I want you to suffer paying off the cards without trying to get another loan. And by that I mean, start cutting your expenses to pay off the cards. Cut. Cut. Cut.

Focus on paying as much as you can if it's one card. If there are multiple cards line them up starting with the one with the lowest balance. Pay as much extra money as you can on the card with the lowest balance while making just the minimum on the other cards. Once you get that card paid off, move to the next.

Now yes people will say, wait shouldn't you start with the one with the highest balance?

I've found in working with folks in debt that if they get quick traction on getting rid of debt they get motivated to speed up their debt payoff and in the end they don't pay more interest because they are mowing through what I call the "debt dash."

So ignore those mailers. Stop using any credit cards and pay off what you have. 

By the way getting another loan can pull down your credit score not push it up.

Although I agree with the concept of 401k, having been in a situation where we had Vanguard for our 401k but lost it when our company was bought out and the 401k switched to several managers with not a lot of reporting (my personal portfolio did much better), I think the feds---it won't happen under an administration against regulations--need to better supervise 401k. The money employees put in and is matched is our money and yet when the new company came it the funds in the 401k were treated as company money with all sorts of strings added on previous contributions. Funds in the 401k should be kept aside and when a company is merged, bought, etc. all employees--not just 59.5+-- should be allowed to move existing funds to an IRA.

Since the new 401(k) is a bad one stop putting your money into it and invest on the side outside of it (in low-cost index funds). And don't worry that you're losing the tax-deferral of 401(k)s, it wouldn't surprise me if the new 401(k)'s higher fees negate the tax benefit.

Can you explain what the big investment lie is.

This question is obviously for me. The Big Investment Lie is that investment "helpers" will charge you only a small fee and it will help you make more money. It's not true. If you want another authority to back me up on that ask Warren Buffett.

I get this sentiment, I do. But I've worked with very high-wealth donors and guess what? They keep their money close to home. That's why Stanford's endowment is more than 20 billion (yes, billions) and Grambling State's is around 5 million. Yet, Stanford is as eligible for federal funds and grants as Grambling. The more I worked for the very, very wealthy the more I realized that government needs to be the lobbyist for the little people, the one that helps keep things equal. You want to take a look at government help? The rich get it ways the more modest among us can only dream of.

Thanks for the insight!

 

THANK YOU I needed the validation. Since it happened recently, am still reelling a bit and miss aspects of the relationship. But, had had a conversation with myself about balancing financial aspects vs 'the relationship'. In the end, my sanity and stability meant more. Thanks again

I will add that just because your honey is money challenged doesn't make him or her a bad person. 

Just not the person for you. 

I love saving. I hate debt. 

I could have never married someone who was a spendthrift. We would have been fighting  all the time.

So I found a FINE frugal man. 

Happily married going into our 26th year of marriage. 

Love his cheap self!!!!!!

You have to know yourself and what you can handle before hooking up with folks. 

A relationship is not entirely about money. However, spending priorities tell a lot about someone's values, and what is important to them. Stretching your dollars to pay for an education is one thing, but for a flashy car, clothes, toys/trinkets is another. The latter would be a deal breaker for me.

Yes, relationships are not all about money you are right. And you are right on the other points.

But I really wish more couples explored their financial values even before they fell in love. Once that love thing kicks in WAY too many people lose perspective. 

The love ain't so cute when your honey is spending unwisely or won't stick to a budget. 

Thin line between love and hate. 

How do you determine how much of your pay should go toward investment (index funds) and what is the the easiest way to get started? Thanks.

Easiest way to get started is to go to the Vanguard web site and do what it suggests. Use at most three funds, the total equity market index fund (domestic US), the total international equity index fund (non-US) -- or instead of the two of those, the total global equity index fund -- and the intermediate corporate bond fund. (Mutual fund or ETF, doesn't really matter much.) Saving 15% of your pay is a good guideline, but more doesn't hurt if you can do it without hurting badly now.

I would also recommend using the retirement calculator at choosetosave.org

Rather than focus on a percentage look at the real numbers. Because 15% maybe be just right or too much. Or 20% might not be enough.

Your number -- your retirement number -- is your number based on what retirement you want.

 

Michelle, Thanks for the discussion and links about downsizing in last Monday's newsletter. I have recently retired, and once my wife retires in a few years, we plan to downsize our current home and move to a place with a cheaper cost-of-living and lower property taxes. I am beginning to go through our 35+ years of accumulated "stuff" to see what could (and should) be disposed of or passed on to others before that day comes. I wanted to mention a reference that has been helpful to me and may be of use to others on the chat. It's the latest book by organizing expert Peter Walsh (you may remember him from the Clean Sweep show on TLC a decade ago). The book is called "Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier, Life." ( http://www.peterwalshdesign.com/2016/11/11/let-it-go/ ) He writes it both for people looking to downsize their own possessions and for children who have to go through their parents' possessions after they're gone (note that he prefers the former over the latter). It not only covers the actual process of downsizing, but also the psychology of thinning out your possessions and how you'll be better and happier for it. It has motivated me to take on the task and I hope it can help others here.

Thank you so much! I'll check the book out myself. Could be a good pick for the Color of Money Book Club.

My credit score (per my credit card company) has been between 810-820 for years, so I usually don't think about it. Today, out of curiosity, I clicked on the "explaining" link. It says my negative factor is that I don't have enough accounts/variety of accounts! I have a mortgage, 2 credit cards I use (and pay off in full every month), and two emergency cards that I never use. As for closed accounts, I have 3 mortgages (I've refinanced several times, the last time to a 10 year mortgage) and 3 closed credit cards. Like Michelle, I haven't had a car loan in almost 20 years and don't take advantage of the no interest option when I get things like a new air conditioner. I now remember that when my ex-boyfriend used a two year free credit offer to get a new furnace, his credit score went up significantly. Michelle, you are so right that the system is crazy--the more credit you get (up to a certain point), the better your score is. But a credit score just shows how you've handled credit in the past; it is by no means a full picture of one's financial health. Since I have no plans to borrow, it doesn't even matter to me. Of course, credit scores can be used as a factor in other decisions, such as auto insurance rates, landlords picking tenants, and whether an employer will hire you.

You are right on the money!

The letter from the 63-year-old in your recent retirement newsletter really hit home. I'm 55 single, and employed but I have almost no confidence that I will be able to remain traditionally employed until my full retirement age of 67, not just from my own recent job hunting experience but also from the experiences of others my age. So I'm not sure how to plan. I already live very cheaply and save. I have no debt except for a small mortgage but there's no way I can save five plus years of salary at what I make. And now that it looks like the ACA is going down, that just makes me feel more vulnerable since I'm still a decade away from Medicare. Frankly, I've done everything right but feel like I have been played for a sucker by the system.

I hear you. But you are NO sucker. Imagine how worse it would be had you not done what you did.

Keep doing what you do. You still will be better off than most.

Ms Singletary, I love you and your books and your columns, that said, I need help. I may be looking at an early out soon that could cut two years off my service time for basically $400 a month less, should I take it? Thanks.

Please email me at michelle.singletary@washpost.com 

I need more details.

There was a column in the last year about a woman who decided to create a 'no regrets' savings account that was money she was able to save above and beyond the emergency and retirement savings. That was the money that she spent on vacations and other luxuries with no regrets. It seemed like a delightful approach.

I have such an account -- or two.

I call it the "life happens fund." And life include spending with no regrets.

So go get you one!

6. Are you sure that your health insurance will be there for you - no matter what - until you qualify for Social Security? I wouldn't retire in my 50s without rock solid heath insurance even with $5 million in the bank. What if you found out you needed a transplant and will be severely impacted even after that?

Oh good one. I forgot that. Thank you. It most certainly should have been on the list!

Thanks, Michelle, for all you do. I am retiring next month after 26 years in a defined benefit pension plan. While I was working, I took every opportunity to earn extra money, and put all of that extra money toward paying off my house. I also aggressively invested in mutual funds outside of my retirement plan I was lucky because I recently sold my house for a nice profit, and used some of that money to move into a smaller place with no mortgage. I was sometimes teased my friends through the years for being frugal, and for not having a new car or the latest gadgets while I threw all of my money into savings and into my mortgage. But I am retiring at 59, debt-free, with a decent pension, but a significant amount of money and other investment vehicles. My financial planner is helping me to make sure that money lasts as long as necessary. It's a great feeling!

So very happy for you! 

I hope to follow you soon!

You said your family had saved $66k to pay for Olivia's expenses at MD. And she received $22k in merit aid, representing the cost of 1 of her 4 years there. What was your plan if she hadn't gotten merit aid? Obviously you don't know what a college will offer until your senior year, which is too late (for many of us) to start saving a whole lot more.

I answered this earlier in the chat. But we saved for ALL four years. We did not plan on any scholarship money.

We put money into another pot for any shortage. 

But if we did not have the extra money in another pot, she would have live at home perhaps the last or two years rather than stay on campus. 

 

Just picked my car up from the garage; needed some maintenance/repairs. And I wrote a check for it - no credit card - because I listened to you and built up my Emergency/Life Happens fund. Happy to know I had the $712 to use and will build that account back up over the next few months!

So proud of you!

Like many other millenials in the DC area, I graduated with both undergraduate and graduate school student loan debt. Me? I was a poor kid who had the opportunity to go to a pretty prestigious public school. No, they didn't have the endowment like the Ivies but they prepared us well...and the cost of education required me to get not only scholarships/grants (FYI: I was a zero EFC kid meaning I got the FULL Pell Grant) but also student loans. I'm happily paying my student loans off and not a single penny came from my single parent household who would have been unable to send to college anyway. I also consider this my gift to my mom: she didn't have to take out a Parent PLUS loan for me. So before we lament and look at student loans with an evil eye, consider this: that student loan program allowed this poor kid an opportunity to see the world, be gainfully employed, and learn about himself by allowing him to go to college. The alternative? A very different experience, and, I'd argue, I wouldn't be as successful as I am today without those student loans...

I will not cosign on your theory that you had to take out loans. 

If you were motivated enough and smart enough to get into that school you would have done just as fine somewhere else.

It's not so much the school but the student that matters. 

And we have to stop telling people that. Because unlike you, far too many think that's the case and end up with debt they cannot afford.

I went to state school. No brand-name school contacts. Regular doors opened for me.

The wonderful guy sitting across from me at the Post went to Harvard.

We both ended up at the Post. 

I only just realized it was way after closing time.

But you guys have such great comments, questions. Love it.

If I didn't get to your posting I'm so sorry. Look for questions answered in my newsletters (Thus. personal finance. Monday retirement) or my column. 

Thanks for joining me today and see you next week.

I work for a nonprofit that provides emergency rent and energy assistance to people on the verge of homelessness. One problem with the private charity/"neighbors helping neighbors" model is that during recessions and periods of high unemployment, there are a LOT of people in crisis at once. Those same people are no longer contributing to charities. Demand rises just as available funds drop. Nobody's helping their neighbors buy groceries because everyone's trying to make ends meet at once.

I was done but had to post this. 

 

Thanks for your perspective!

In This Chat
Michelle Singletary
Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, "The Color of Money," which appears in The Post on Wednesday and Sunday and is carried in more than 120 newspapers.

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Michael Edesess
Economist and mathematician Michael Edesess is chief investment strategist of Compendium Finance, adviser to mobile financial planning software company Plynty, and a research associate of the Edhec-Risk Institute.
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