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Michelle Singletary
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, September 25, 2009; 12:00 PM

Personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary hosted a live discussion with Fran Kinniry, a senior member of Vanguard Investment Strategy Group, on Friday, September 25 at Noon ET.

Read Michelle's past Color of Money columns or check out her past Book Club picks.

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New York: Michelle, what's the best place to put emergency fund money? I'd like it to at least keep pace with inflation, but don't want to lock it up (after all, it's for emergencies). Should I be looking at money market accounts? CDs that automatically roll over and renew?

Thanks!

Fran Kinniry: A low cost money market account is probably your best investment based on your objectives. While yields are very low on a nominal basis, inflation has been very low if not negative.

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washingtonpost.com: Thanks for joining us this afternoon! Michelle and Fran will begin answering your questions shortly.

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Fairfax, Va.: Michelle, My wife and I have been saving for years now and have pretty much invested close to the vest. We have debt but it all can be paid off with a simple click. My question is: Do you think having over a 125K in general savings is too much to be hoarding? Wife and I are in our early thirties and both contribute 4% to 401K. How should we be diversifying this nice savings we have accumulated?

Thank for your advice.

Fran Kinniry: Sounds like you have been a diligent saver. With the yield curve very steep, one can increase their yields, albeit with an increase in risk, by moving some of your assets from a savings account to a short or intermediate low cost diversified investment grad bond fund. The amount typically held in savings should be some where close to one year liabilities.

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Michelle Singletary: Sorry folks that you didn't get my usual welcome hello.

Had to pick up sick kid. Anyway, as you know Mr. Bogle couldn't join me today because he's ill.

I hope you all will -- as I will -- wish him a speedy recovery.

Let's continue.

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Arlington, Va.: Fran, thanks for participating, and Michelle, congratulations on having your national profile raised thanks to the struggling economy (and newfound appreciation for spending wisely).

Many financial experts strongly encourage diversification as a key part of investment strategy. I thought it was interesting that some of the Madoff victims invested all of their money with Madoff, and consequently was exposed to significant risk as a result. What do you think about investors who invest large percentages of their investment portfolios in diversified financial institutions, like Vanguard? I ask this because after hearing about Madoff's victims, I realized that my own, as well as my parent's investments are mostly in Vanguard because of its reputation and low mutual fund cost ratios.

Fran Kinniry: Vanguard and other mutual fund providers operate in one of the most regulated and financially audited business environments in the world. The hedge fund community is an unregulated, unaudited, self reported investment vehicle. While I understand your concerns, we believe having all of your eggs in Vanguar's basket is prudent and not cause for any consternation.

Michelle Singletary: The thing is many of Madoff's victims thought they were diversified within their holdings with him. Where they went wrong and of course SEC is that no one verified he was actually investing the money he was receiving.

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Washington, D.C.: Please tell me again what percentage of my income should be kept for the life happens fund and the emergency fund??

Thanks & I love your columns!! Especially NOW!

Michelle Singletary: With the emergency fund and life happens fund it's not a matter of percentage but dollar amount.

Emergency should be at least 3 months of living expenses (all that it takes to run your household for three months). If you have a job that would be hard to replace should you be fired you should shoot for six to 12 months.

With life happens depends on your situation. For example, if you have an older car that may require expensive repairs for that alone aim to save $600 to $1,000. Got kids? Add another $200. Triflin relatives who you help sometimes another $200 to $300. See what I mean. The life happens is the backup before the emergency back up. You can put say $2,000 in life happens and then stop. When you tap that money then save to build it back up.

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Washington, D.C.: What happened to Q&A with John Bogle?

My question for the Vanguard representative is as follows: I have long been a fan of Vanguard's index funds and am now allocating my investments between Total Stock Market, Total Bond Market and Total International Market. Is that still a sound strategy for investing? Better than individual managed funds?

Fran Kinniry: We believe an all index based strategy, including the three funds you mentioned is a very sound and prudent strategy. Once these three funds have been selected, you can allocate among them based on your investment objectives, risk tolerance, time horizion and other considerations.

Michelle Singletary: Please see my earlier note about Mr. Bogle.

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Emergency Fund: Hi -- just to follow up on your emergency fund question. I keep mine in an ING sort of account where the yield is pretty low but I have easy access to my money. Is that okay?

Michelle Singletary: Sure. You just don't want the money too easy to get to...say mingling it with the monies you use every month for your bills. If you keep it in your regular checking or savings, you may spend it cuz you see it.

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need to vent: While folks are scrambling to buy homes before the Nov 30 deadline for the $8K tax credit. Why don't the banks just lower the cost of these foreclosures so they will sell faster?? With ALL the money they've been given out of our pockets, they are the ones winning in this economy.

Michelle Singletary: I agree. And I think will be an expensive mistake to extend the credit. I mean you don't get the $8,000 up front, so really the people buying CAN afford to get the house without this taxpayer buyout. In the Post story today one woman said she might invest her $8,000.

Invest your OWN money.

It's why I have a problem with this credit.

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Delray Beach, Fla.: Are Index Funds still recommended for the conservative investor in today's market?

Fran Kinniry: Yes. Index funds are very broadly diversified and can be utilized for conservative investors by using Bond Index funds or Bond ETF. One can also use equity index funds which have also proven to be more diversified and lower in risk than active funds of the same type. So index funds can meet your needs as a conservative investor and the key would be which index and fund you select.

Michelle Singletary: I love index funds. And in the interest of full disclosure I do invest in Vanguard index funds. I also invest in actively managed funds.

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Londonderry, N.H.: What happened to the John Bogle Discussion?

Michelle Singletary: Please my friends, read the earlier posts. Mr. Bogle took ill and couldn't join me today.

I'm hoping when he gets better he may reschedule.

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Wow!: You and Hax at the same day and time!? What a great Friday!!!

Love you and your advice, by the way. Still in debt, but it's slowly moving down.

Michelle Singletary: Love YA right back!!!

And slow is good as long as it moves you forward to get out of debt bondage.

Keep at it.

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San Antonio, Tex.: Mr. Bogle:

The S&P 500 index closed on Thursday at 1050.78. Ten years ago, on Sept. 25th, 1999, it closed at 1060.87. That's a decline of .95%. And we have had 26.5% inflation since Sept. 1999.

Why should we expect stocks to perform any better in the future than they have over the past 10 years?

Mike

Fran Kinniry: The prior decade returns have not been a good predictor of the next decade. With that said, valuations of the stock market today look more favorable than they did a decade ago.

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Student Loans: Hi Michelle, Thank you for your article about student loans. It is truly a sad situation for many of us. I have a lot of educational debt and I've had to learn the hard way about how to manage your money. I don't think I would have gone to grad school with such an expensive price tag in retrospect. But in the meantime, I live frugally and I have been trying very hard to make extra payments every month on my private loans at least. My question is, I will receive a raise soon, and I am torn between what I should put my extra money on:

1. Start contributing to TSP 2. Save more -- I have a life happens fund of about 1k and an emergency fund of a little less than 3 months of living expenses. 3. Pay more towards my private loans. I have federal loans but the interest rate is low and my private loans are more.

Thanks!

Michelle Singletary: Do it all.

-- Invest some for your retirement.

-- Finish building up the emergency fund to at least the three months and then stop.

-- List ALL your debts and attack them with a plan. Start with the loan with the lowest balance. Put all the extra money from the raise (that isn't going for retirement and finishing building up the emergency fund) toward the student loans, again starting with the loan with the lowest balance. If all the loans are about the same then go after the ones with the highest interest rate first.

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Grand Rapids, Mich.: Is there a way to hear this discussion (vs. reading it)?

washingtonpost.com: No, this is a text web chat, not a transcription of an audio discussion.

Michelle Singletary: So sorry. Maybe one day I can speak my answers to the chat.

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Crownsville, Md.: Michelle, I hope you can fit in a non-book club comment -- I've had it on my calendar for almost a year!

Everyone who belongs to AAA can get his or her car checked out for free at various AAA facilities during the month of October. This can be a huge help if you are trying to decide whether to trade in quasi-clunker, or just need a guesstimate of what to budget for car repairs in the coming year. Even if your car is fairly new, it doesn't hurt to have this info. An ounce of prevention, etc. And it's free!

Thanks for helping to get the word out. I've been doing this for years and the peace of mind (thankfully, they've never uncovered any major problems) is wonderful.

Michelle Singletary: Thanks so much for the info.

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Philadelphia, Pa.: It was with great personal respect of your values and vision that I was confident to place my funds in the Vanguard Company. Do you feel that the company can maintain these values as it goes forward and grows in size?

Fran Kinniry: Thank you for your trust and confidence in Vanguard. We are confident we can maintain one of the highest values within the investment industry. Our unique mutual corporate structure distinguishes us as our investors are our owners. This is much different from a private entity or public entity in which there are two masters to serve (owners of the funds and owners of the management company).We view our size as an asset since it allows us to remain highly cost efficient. That said, we remain true to our small company values and always put our investors first.

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Princeton, N.J.: I have a question about emergency funds. I am 2 months ahead on my mortgage. Can I "count" that toward the amount needed in my emergency fund?

Michelle Singletary: Interesting question.

I supposed you could count that if you stayed two months ahead forever. If not, put the money away. And going forward if you are going to pay more on your mortgage don't just make a payment ahead, put the money on your principal that way you save in interest.

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Springfield, Va.: Hi, Michelle, Just curious why you say to pay off the lowest balance debt first? I read (I believe in Kiplinger's) that you should pay off the highest balance first, because you're paying more in interest. Thanks!

Michelle Singletary: Well, if people were disciplined to pay off the highest interest first, they wouldn't be in debt.

In my experience of doing this for YEARS, when people et rid of the little debts first they become more motivated. That in turns pushes them to pay off their debts quickly -- often eliminating any extra interest they would have paid putting the higher interest debt last. If you have two debts that are about the same and one has the higher interest rate, then yes, pay that off.

But I've seen this work so well starting with the lowest debt first. People just get charged up. If they list the highest interest and highest balance (which often is the same) they get discouraged because the debt amount isn't going down fast enough and then they just quit.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: What is your advice for people retiring who see their portfolios have diminished in recent years? In other words, what should people to who should be taking advantage of the lower prices in a market during times when they need to sell?

Fran Kinniry: Having an asset allocation in place is one of the more important aspects of investment success. As one nears retirement hopefully the equity allocation meets the goals and objectives of the investor. If this is the case, as the equity market falls and investors have an appropriate allocation to risky assets such as equities, they will not be selling equities but buying as they rebalance. Another valuable consideration and one in which there has been a heavily renewed interest in is balanced funds such as Targer Retirement Funds. These funds will maintain the allocation through time for the investor.

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San Diego, Calif.: Quick question for Michelle. My husband and I have about $4,000 on a credit card. We have the money in our "life happens" fun that we could just pay it off, but that would leave us without much money in the fund. Should we just use the money to pay off the card and then build up the fund again?

Michelle Singletary: Yup, that's a good use of the life happens fund. Pay off the debt. Then take the debt payments you were making and use it to build that fund up.

The thing about the life happens fund is, it's designed to be depleted and built back up etc.

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re: Student Loans Article: The article said that 42% of families don't even consider the cost of attending schools in narrowing their decision. Do you think that will change in this new economy?

Michelle Singletary: I hope it does.

And did you see the second stat? That many families (students and parents) didn't even consider what the graduate would make when deciding on how much to spend.

Crazy!!!

Makes so sense to spend $70,000 or $80,000 if when you graduate your salary will be in the low $40,000 or below range.

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Washington, D.C.: Michelle, Are my in-laws are putting my spouse (and I) in an inappropriate position? They're trying to buy a house, but one of them has been let go from their job with the stipulation that they'd be on leave without pay for several weeks so the lender could verify employment. My spouse is not supportive of them buying a house in the first place: they are of retirement age and finances seem to be finagled ("once we get the house we can do x, y, and z to pay for it"). But if any of those variables falls through, it's not clear they can manage the bills. What are we supposed to do? We're both nervous that this will fail and fall to us to pick up the pieces. We've seen our parents make financial mistakes before, but isn't it time for them to be more conservative? I'd like my spouse to speak up but we're not sure what to say or how to say it. Thanks.

Michelle Singletary: The thing is they are grown and there isn't anything you can do but what you've been doing -- giving them the best advice you can.

They should not buy that house now with no idea of when that income being lost is going to be replaced. Plus they are/will be lying to the bank. One of them is NOT employment. To try and get the employer to make it look as it they are is deceptive and really mortgage fraud. Something that could catch up to them in the future.

Tell them what I said. Keep advising and when things fall, don't be so ready to pick up the pieces. Let them do it and next time they might listen to you.

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Housing Credit: I think the credit motivated people to get out there to buy, but I wonder how much money it's really saving people anyway.

My husband and I have been looking in southwestern Pennsylvania and it seems the credit is almost hurting our search. Sellers are inflating the price of their homes and being inflexible because they know the buyers may get that credit. I'm curious what will happen to the market when the credit goes away - I think it might make prices a little more realistic, meaning that sellers can no longer throw back at buyers - "well, use your tax credit to fix x,y,z" - and will instead have to really negotiate the price on their homes.

Michelle Singletary: I totally agree with you.

It's crazy.

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Sterling Heights, Mich.: I'm looking to buy some muni bonds to provide a larger return with little risk. What are the benefits of individual bonds vs. bond funds vs. bond ETFs? I have about $25k to invest.

Thanks!

Fran Kinniry: The best way to invest in municipal bonds is through a low cost, broadly diversified bond fund. The problem with individual bonds is that you need a very large sum of money to buy bonds at fair pricing and also buy enough bonds to offer diversification. I would stay away from individual bonds unless you have a very very large sum of money to invest.

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Rockville, Md.: I recently read "Enough" and even though I have been in banking for my whole career, I was shocked at how much of our economy had been sucked into the financial sector. I agree with you that it was too much, with a lot of talent going to devise new financial instruments instead of creating real businesses and hard assets.

Also, the things that have gone on in the economy over the past year have left me disillusioned about the stock market and the financial and investing advice that you read in the the financial press. I feel like I have been lied to and I don't trust a lot of what I read about investing anymore. Can you say anything that might improve my perspective?

Fran Kinniry: While I understand your dis-illusionment, I firmly believe that the securities markets remain the best avenue to create long term wealth. We agree there are is a lot out there to read and one needs to be careful with making investment decisions based on some of this information. However, sticking to the core tenets of investment sucess have proven to be prudent through time. These tenets are mainly asset allocation, diversification, low cost, discipline and long term orientation.

Michelle Singletary: I honestly know how you feel. We were "played" by a lot of bad players.

But rather than be scared just get smarter. I diversify in a number of ways. And by that I mean, I keep a lot of cash for emergency and life happens fund. I keep my debts low. I invest for the future.

You see people forgot a lot of that. They just heard invest and they neglected to do the other things to stabilize their finances. So, yes, my portfolios took a beating but I also didn't have a lot of debt and empty bank accounts.

I guess what I'm saying is investing is still the best way to make your money grow. You just have to realize there is always the risk of losing that money, so you have to make sure all your other financial ducks are in a row.

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Good News to share: Hi Michelle, I wanted to thank you for always sticking to your guns when people disagree with your Big Mama methods. They have worked!! I completely forgot that I was contributing to my 401K. Why? Because I've been doing it automatically for the past 2 years! -yes. I should have checked long ago] nonetheless.. good news is good news.. thanks Michelle!

Michelle Singletary: You are so welcome.

Good news indeed.

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Mitchellville, Md.: How long before you retire should you start liquidating your assets and condensing debts?

Does it make sense to pay off your mortgage before retirement?

Fran Kinniry: We believe retirement is an on-going investment process. Specifically we do not feel that a dramatic shift in asset sell down or debt repayment should happen in bulk, but marginally and incrementally over the retirement horizion. One must be careful not to be too conservative as many assets that are lower in risk may not provide the inflation purchasing power in the future. So the key is to maintain a low cost well balanced diversified portfolio and to manage the risk gradually over the retirement horizion.

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Arlington, Va.: Sorry to hear about your kid and Mr. Bogle being sick. I think there is something going around the schools..lots of parents have been out this week.

Michelle Singletary: Thanks. Keep them both in your prayers.

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follow up to paying credit card w/ life happens fund: My hubby is exact opposite.. he doesn't want to be without available funds should something come up. Have you discovered a way to communicate with a man that it doesn't make sense to have lots of savings, but still be in debt?? Not meant to be an insulting question, I just know we process words differently. Words like "debt" and "savings" seems to have us 'agreeing to disagree' so nothing has been done.

Michelle Singletary: See this is why I created the life happens fund (and have him read the archive of the chat to start your discussion).

Many people can't let go of the emergency funds and that's understandable.

So that's why life happens fund works so well because it's designed for you to LET GO the savings to pay down debt or fix the car or whatever.

Find some time this weekend and just point out all the money you are wasting paying interest on the debt.

If you haven't divided up the rainy day money do that. Put a few months of living expenses in the emergency fund and the rest be used to pay down the debt.

That way you still have peace of mind and some cash but you also attack the debts.

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getting married, combining finances: Hi Michelle- I love your no-nonsense advice, and I'm wondering if you can help me out. I am getting married in one month, and we will need to combine our finances. We both own houses, and of course we currently have our separate bank accounts. He banks with USAA, and I bank with Navy Federal Credit Union. USAA has great advantages (no ATM fees, regardless of what bank's ATM you use), but Navy Fed has fantastic lending rates. I don't want to pick one bank over the other, and I know that this complicates our ability to combine everything into one set of household accounts. What do you recommend, and can you suggest any good reading that will help us make this financial transition smoothly?

Michelle Singletary: Keep both.

Use the USAA for the joint checking and savings and to pay your bills get your allowance money from ATMS, etc.

Use the Navy Credit account for your joint emergency and life happens funds.

See. Problem solved.

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Itajuba,MG Brazil: What does "Enough is Enough" mean?

Michelle Singletary: Really good question. And from Brazil. How cool.

It means that many of us already have enough -- clothes, food, things, stuff, etc.

By definition when you reach enough, you have more than you need.

Many of the people going into debt have enough stuff, yet they want more.

Many of the people trading in their cars, could hang on to the one they got..but they want something newer.

We have to learn to be satisfied with what we have.

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Atlanta, Ga.: re: the credit.

Totally agree with you Michelle. It seems our govt keeps passing these types of laws and not even considering what it will do - i.e., things won't stay exactly the same, as the other chatter said, people will raise the price of the house, or whatever - the credit doesn't do much to 'help' people, it just makes prices higher. and adds to our deficit...

Michelle Singletary: And since again you don't get the money upfront but when you file your taxes .... or you have to change your withholding to get it piece by piece in your pay, it's not really "helping people to get into a house."

It's giving our money to people who could already get a house.

Now if this was money for a downpayment or help with closing cost, for the less fortunate among us, I might think differently.

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Herndon, Va.: The distinction between Index Funds and ETFs has always been confusing to me. Can you distinguish?

Fran Kinniry: Index mutual funds are a low cost vehicle to gain exposure to a market or market segment. ETFs perform the same function. The major differences between the two is in how and where the investments are purchased. Index funds are bought directly from a fund company at a closing share price at the end of the day. ETFs are typically purchased through a brokerage account and trade throughout the day.

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Cleveland, Ohio: Michelle,

I am a divorced and a single father to 12 and 10 year olds. Even when I was married, my wife and I had different spending habits. I am more of a saver and she is more of a spender. I live below my means. I learn to budget off my disability and make it work. I have 6 months of living expenses saved up in an emergency fund. I recently started a new full-time position, and I am still basically living as though that income does not exist. I talk to the children about personal finances and let them know about past bankruptcy. I know I cannot control my ex, but I am concern that our two different styles will confuse the children. Any suggestions?

Michelle Singletary: Just keep talking to your kids and living the way you do. It's not ideal that they are shuttled between two households with different money styles but you still have major influence.

Talk. Show them. Walk the walk.

And perhaps you could get your ex to take a personal finance class or seminar, etc. with you and the kids.

Just a thought.

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Central Mass.: I'm about 15 years from retirement, and would like to start funding a retirement account to supplement the plan I get from work. I'm looking for no-risk, low-fee plans, and of course any tax advantages would be a bonus.

Can you recommend a type of account I should be looking at?

Thanks!

Fran Kinniry: A Roth IRA or Tax Deductible traditional IRA are very good places to start your savings and offer tax benefits. As for the risk of any investment, the selection of the investment should be viewed carefully to determine what level meets your needs and return expectations.

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Tampa, Fla.: How should people prepare financially for rapidly rising inflation conditions?

Fran Kinniry: We believe the best way to prepare for rising inflation, is to maintain a well balanced low cost diversified portfolio. Different assets respond differently to different inflation shocks and typically it is the causation of inflation that will ultimately determine the best approach. With that said, our belief is for inflation to remain in a confortable range for the foreseeable future.

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North Potomac, Md.: I read your column on student loans on Sunday, and it was informative (as always). However, I'd like to see an acknowledgment of the fact that when the "government" is backing these loans, what that really means is that U.S. taxpayers are loaning the money to the students and parents. I support the concept of these loans; they probably are a net benefit to society in that we get a better educated citizenry (even though they drive up college costs for those of us who don't need loans). But students and parents need to think about the fact that when they get these loans, they owe their fellow citizens a big "Thank You!" And that they have a moral, in addition to any legal, obligation to pay them back.

Thanks for hearing me out.

Michelle Singletary: I agree that people should be thankful...but I also know that I've met a single person with student loans who didn't want to pay back the debt.

The thing is they get so deep in they can't. People are just trying to better themselves. Still there is just too much borrowing for school because they've been told it's worth it at almost any cost.

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Denver, Colo.: The market upheaval over the past year has me wondering: Are 529 plans still the best way to go in saving for my children's (ages 12, 9, 4, and 2) education? Or should I just put their money in a long-term CD and play it safe?

Fran Kinniry: The 529s offer potential tax benefits relative to CD's. One can select within a 529 vehicle investments that are risk averse such as money markets or high quality sort to intermediate bond funds.

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Kaneohe (Kah-nay-o'-hay), Hawaii: For Mr. Bogle: Before Thanksgiving last year, the media were frantic over the question of whether people would spend enough in the coming holiday season. Except for a couple of columns by Michelle, I saw not one drop of ink spilled, nor heard one balancing word uttered, about the contrasting ideas of spending minimally, living within one's means and increasing savings. I thought the financial crisis would change things, but now I am hearing the exact same run- up to the holidays: Will consumers spend enough? How do you reconcile for yourself this seeming conflict between what's (said to be) good for the nation and what's good for the individual? Thank you.

Michelle Singletary: Actually there are a lot of voices of reason on this spending issue. A lot in this paper and of course in my column and in more than just a "couple" of my columns.

But to your question, I tell people to be selfish on this issue cuz the economy ain't going to pay your mortgage or rent.

You have to do what's best for your family and that means not spending during the holidays or any time what you can't afford.

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New York, N,Y.: Dear Sir, In 2007 I open a VTIVX using cost averaging for my daughter, who was 23 at the time. She works in the medical field and is in post graduate school. She still contributes a fixed amount every month. Are we on the right path?

Fran Kinniry: We believe you are on a good path. Consistent saving and investing has proven to be a major factor in developing long term wealth acumulation.

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tax credit: I'm with you concerning the tax credit not helping with closing costs, etc, but you can get the money fairly quickly. We filed an amended 08 return in August (closed in July), and deposited the check this week. We'll be using 1/2 of it for some home improvements and saving the rest until the 3 year payback period has elapsed. No plans of moving, but you never know.

Michelle Singletary: You are right, you can do that.

But may I point out that you are a perfect example of why I think this credit is a $15 billion mistake.

You are using it for home improvements and saving the rest...which means you didn't NEED the money to get into the house.

So what else could we have use that $15 billion for?

How about helping the millions unemployed with more unemployment benefits.

More to the unemployed to help pay for health care?

Or not use it at all and not put this country further into debt perhaps?

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Herndon, VA again: When would it make more sense to purchase an ETF over an Index Fund?

Fran Kinniry: Both investments make a lot of sense. With that said all else being equal, an investor who wishes to trade a fund more frequently than an ETF makes more sense. If one is making regular periodic purchases than a tradition index fund makes more sense. Also it may depend on where you have your investments. If you have your investments at a leading mutual fund index provider than buying a traditional index fund directly would make more sense than if your investments were at a brokerage firm offering higher cost or no index offerings. In this case buying an ETF would be appropriate.

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Child Spending it all in Md: Hi there, I asked last week about my 9 y.o. who wants to spend his own money. Well we talked and agreed to deposit a portion of his piggy bank monthly so he wouldn't be tempted to spend it all. Well, he apparently spent ALL of his money, and now needs to start from scratch [piggybank wise, not savings account]. How do you punish a child for spending his own money?? Or do you even do that??

Fran please chime in.. is there's a way I can introduce him to the market early in life?? Maybe not at 9 yrs old but what about in the teen yrs? Lots of these kids who start their basement businesses are truly ingenious and are getting set for their future.

Would love to hear from the both of you.

Michelle Singletary: Wanted to get this in before I signed up. Sorry Fran gone.

I don't think you should punish him. It was after all as you point out his money.

Just let him know going forward you will split the piggy bank savings. Be sure to make the rules clear (you may want to write them down and post it near the piggy bank.

For now concentrate on getting the savings thing down.

As for investing, one way to get him involved now and during his teen years to start with his college fund. If you have one show him how it's invested, etc.

If you don't have one, get one and involve him in putting money into it, even if it's just a few bucks.

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Michelle Singletary: Well folks got to run. Thanks for joining me today. I'm so sorry if I didn't get to your question. But keep checking out my print column and weekly eletter (please subscribe if you don't already) for answers to leftover questions.

Take care and have a great weekend.

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