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There Are No Dumb Questions About Money: Answers and Advice to Help You Make the Most of Your Finances

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There Are No Dumb Questions About Money: Answers and Advice to Help You Make the Most of Your Finances

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From actual reader questions about money, and Liz's clear answers, you'll learn what you can afford and the smartest way to pay off debt.

  • Clear, up-to-the-minute financial advice in quick, bite-size chunks, from Liz Weston, America's #1 Internet personal finance journalist
  • Learn from other peoples' mistakes! Liz provides answers to questions actual consumers have asked about their own "spectacularly screwed-up finances"
  • Actionable strategies and realistic guidance based on proven financial planning principles


  • Copyright 2013
  • Dimensions: 6" x 9"
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-308894-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-308894-6

Up-to-Date, Common-Sense Money Answers, from the Internet's #1 Personal Finance Journalist!

•  Quick, bite-size advice you can understand, trust, and use
•  Save for retirement, college, or anything else
•  Pay off debt, the smart way
•  By award-winning MSN Money/AARP financial columnist and CNBC contributor Liz Weston

You can build financial security--and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to do it. This book brings together all the help you'll need, in common-sense language anyone can understand. It's organized around the questions real people have asked Liz Weston, the Internet's #1 financial columnist. Weston's answers are simple, accurate, and up-to-date… and best of all, you can use them.

Here are powerful, sensible ways to get out of debt… set financial priorities for a better life… and save for everything from college to retirement. Weston offers realistic, up-to-date help with everything from investing to home buying, from improving your credit score to avoiding identity theft. You'll also learn how to master the emotions of money: to get past the pain, arguments, and guilt, and do what works.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapters

Balanced Budget, Balanced Life: Setting Your Financial Priorities

Introduction to There Are No Dumb Questions About Money: Answers and Advice to Help You Make the Most of Your Finances

Sample Pages

Download the sample pages (includes Chapter 1 and Index)

Table of Contents

Introduction     1

Chapter 1  Balanced Budget, Balanced Life: Setting Your Financial Priorities     5
How to Stick to a Budget     6
For a Budget That Works, Get Control of Your Debt     7
What Do Average Families Spend?     8
Balancing Your Budget in the Big City     9
Income Dropped? Expenses Have to Drop, Too     12
How to Beat “Frugal Fatigue”     12
Fast Ways to Cut Cable, Cell Bills     15
What to Do with an Extra $5,000 a Month     15
Planning a Family? How to Prepare Financially     16
Facing a Layoff? Rule #1: Conserve Cash     17
Living Paycheck to Paycheck? Knock It Off     18
Why Your Budget Doesn’t Work     19

Chapter 2  Slay the Debt Dragon     21
What Comes First?     22
What Comes First, Savings or Debt Payoff?     23
Why You Shouldn’t Pay Down Your Mortgage     23
Don’t Drain Your Retirement to Pay Debts     24
Use Inheritance to Pay Down Debt, Boost Savings     25
How to Stop Collection Calls     26
Garnishments Are Taking Food off This Family’s Table      26
Massive Debts Mean Gambling Is More Than a “Habit”     27
Debt Doesn’t Disappear After Lender Write-off     28
How Long Bad Debt Can Haunt You     29
What to Do When You Can’t Afford Your Life     30
Young Widow Struggles with Late Husband’s Debts     31
Dealing with After-Death Creditors     32
Fighting an Aggressive Collection Agency     32
Student Drowning in Debt Needs Professional Help     33
How to Cope with a Big Medical Bill      35
When Bankruptcy Is the Best of Bad Options     36
What to Do When Bankruptcy Won’t Work     37

Chapter 3  Burnish Your Credit Score     39
Improving Bad Scores Takes Time, Patience     40
Why “Free” Credit Scores Aren’t     41
How Credit Card Balances Affect Your Scores     41
Does a Credit Card Make You a Slave to Lenders?     42
Why Carrying a Balance Is Stupid     43
No Credit Cards? You May Not Get the Best Rates     43
How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Scores     44
Should You Stay in Debt to Help Your Scores?     44
Don’t Close Accounts If You’re Trying to Improve Your Scores     45
Close Cards the Smart Way     45
Debts Rising? It’s Time to Cut Spending      46
Big Debts Mean You Can’t Afford Your Life     46
Marriage Doesn’t Combine Your Credit Reports     47
Unwanted Time Share Can Lead to Credit Score Hit     48
“Piggybacking” Can Pose a Serious Risk     49
Skimping on Credit Card Payments Can Damage Scores for Years      50
Short Sale Causes Credit Scores to Plunge     50
Finding an Apartment After Foreclosure     51
Recovering from Bankruptcy Takes Five to Ten Years     52
Installment Loans Can Boost Credit Scores     53
Not All Loans Help Your Scores     54
How to Score 800+     54
Credit Scores Not Perfect? Don’t Sweat It     55
Zombie Debt May Still Hurt Credit Scores     56
Insurance Scores Differ from Credit Scores     56
“Too Many Credit Cards” Boosts Insurance Premiums      57

Chapter 4  Couples and Money     59
When Savers Marry Spenders     59
Credit Concerns or Just Cold Feet?     61
Fiancé’s Reluctance May Be Just Prudence     61
His, Hers, or Ours? Setting Up Finances As a Couple     62
Time Share Causes Financial Woes     63
Adding Fiancé As “Authorized User” May Help His Scores, but Be Careful     64
New Wife Could Help His Credit, but She’s Not Obligated     65
Marriage Didn’t Trash Son’s Credit Score     66
Spouse’s Debt May Be Yours—or It May Not Be     66
Separate Your Finances Before Divorce Is Final     67
Couples’ Big Age Difference Affects Retirement Planning     68
Choosing Pension Payout? Get Expert Help     69
How Marriage, Divorce, and Death Affect Your Social Security Check     70

Chapter 5  Family Money: Keeping the Financial Peace      75
When Grandpa Reneges on Promised Money     76
When a Sibling Wants a Loan     76
Supporting the Family Spendthrift     77
Quit Trying to Change a Deadbeat     78
Helping Parents Support a Freeloader     78
Saying No to Handouts for Adult Children     79
Daughter’s Family Is Bleeding Them Dry     80
Could Son’s Unpaid Bills Harm Parents’ Credit? Maybe     81
When It Makes Sense to Let Your Adult Kids Live at Home     82
How to Buy Stocks for Children     82
Dealing with Parents’ Financial Crisis     83
Beware Becoming Trustee of a Sibling’s Money     84
Are Family Heirlooms Worth the Fight?     85
Stepdaughter Wants “Everything”: What Does She Deserve?     86
How Can I Resolve a Spat with My Siblings over an Inherited Home?     87

Chapter 6  How to Stop Working Someday: Saving and Investing for Retirement     89
With Retirement, There’s No Making Up for Lost Time     90
$25 Is Enough to Get Started Saving for Retirement     90
There’s No Such Thing as “Risk-Free” Retirement Investing     91
Stocks: A Must or a Gamble?     92
Dependents Can Fund Roths Even If Their Parents Can’t     93
Don’t Tap Retirement Funds for a Bigger Down Payment     94
Build Retirement Funds Before Paying Down a Mortgage     95
Don’t Suspend 401(k) Contributions to Pay Down Loan     96
Retirement Planning Without a Retirement Plan     96
Self-employed? You’ve Got More Retirement Savings Options     97
Roll Your 401(k) into an IRA? Maybe Not     98
Windfall in Your 50s? Don’t Blow It     99
Get a Second Opinion Before Buying a Variable Annuity     99
Don’t Count on an Inheritance to Fund Your Retirement     100
What’s a “Safe” Withdrawal Rate?     100
Is a 3% Withdrawal Rate Too Conservative?     101
Social Security: Grab It Early, or Wait for Bigger Checks?     102

Chapter 7  Protect What You Have     105
Should a 29-Year-Old Buy Life Insurance?     105
Don’t Buy Life Insurance If You Don’t Need Life Insurance     107
Help Your Pet Without Risking Your Finances     108
Going Bare on Health Insurance Isn’t Smart     109
“Eating Healthy” Won’t Protect Against Medical Bills     109
Is Disability Insurance Worth the Cost?     110
Why You Shouldn’t Buy Cellphone Insurance     111
Get a Second Opinion Before Buying an Annuity     112
When You Can Skip Rental Car Insurance     113
Stick with Insurance Minimums or Buy More Coverage?     114
Is Disaster Insurance Worth the Cost?     115

Chapter 8  Identity Theft     117
Don’t Trust Your Tax Papers to the U.S. Mail     118
Sometimes You Have to Cough Up Your SSN     119
Credit Account Closure May Be Cause for Alarm     119
Credit Freezes May Be Your Best Defense Against ID Theft     120
What Should I Do If My Sister Is an Identity Thief?     121
What to Do When Your Wallet Is Stolen     122
Do Dead People Have to Worry About ID Theft?     123
101 for Identity Theft Victims     124
Redact Your Medicare Card to Reduce ID Theft Risk     125
Are Businesses Protecting Your Social Security Number?     125

Chapter 9  Home Sweet Home: What You Need to Know About Real Estate     127
How Much House Can I Afford to Buy?     128
No Down Payment Saved? You’re Not Ready to Buy a Home     128
Student Loan Debt May Limit Mortgage     130
Shop Hard Before You Refinance     130
When to Pay Down Your Mortgage     131
Should You Refinance a Mortgage That’s Almost Paid Off?     132
When Shorter Loans Make Sense     133
Adjustable Mortgage May Not Be Affordable for Long     133
Should She Walk Away from Her Home?     134
What Foreclosure Does to Your Credit     135
Don’t Expect Mortgage Lender to Do the Right Thing     135
New Rules May Help More Underwater Homeowners     136
Get Help with a Mortgage Modification     137
Short Sales Can Trash Your Scores     138
A Short Sale Isn’t a Bailout     138
How to Speed Up Foreclosure     139
Property Loss May Lead to Bankruptcy     140
Will You Face a Tax Bill after Foreclosure?     140
Finding an Apartment after Foreclosure     141
How to Get a House Sold Fast     142
How to Dump a Time Share     143

Chapter 10  Pay for College Without Going Broke     145
If You Can Save for College, You Should     146
529 College Savings Plans Are a Good Option for Many     147
Withdrawals from 529s Can Be Tricky     148
529s Aren’t Always the Best Way to Save for College     149
Mom Stole College Fund. What to Do?     149
Did Grandma Divert the College Fund?     150
Don’t Overdose on Debt for a Child’s Education     150
“Free Money” May Not Make School Affordable     151
It’s Too Late to Borrow for Child’s College Education     152
Finding a Way to Pay for School     153
Is It Too Late to Go Back to School?     154
“Dream School” Can Turn into a Nightmare     154
Is a “Dream School” Worth Any Price?     155
Ivy League Tuition Waiver Doesn’t Apply to Our “Dream School” Applicant     156
Tiny Salary, Big Debt     157
Degree from For-Profit School Leads to Big Debt     158
How to Make Headway on Student Loans     159
Is Graduate School Worth Borrowing For?     159
Wrestling with Student Loan Debt? Know Your Forgiveness Options     160
Student Loans in Collections? Here’s Where to Find Help     161
Settling Student Loan Debt: Tough but Possible     162
Student Loan Settlement Won’t Be Cheap     163

Chapter 11  Find an Advisor You Can Trust     165
Variable Annuity for a Dying Woman? I Don’t Think So     166
“Unsuitable” Annuity Can Be Undone     167
Is a Money Manager Worth the Cost?      168
How to Find an Advisor You Can Trust      69
Your Broker Is Not a Retirement Expert     169
How to Invest an Inheritance     170
Finding Trustworthy Advisors     171
What to Do Now with Your Extra Cash     172

Chapter 12  At the End: Caring for Elders and Planning Your Estate     173
Helping an Indigent Parent Navigate “the System”     173
Son-in-Law Badgers Elderly Couple for Money     175
Protecting a Parent from Financial Opportunists     176
Daily Money Managers Can Help Pay the Bills     176
A Reverse Mortgage Could Keep Mom in Her Home     177
Asset Transfer Could Delay Medicaid Eligibility     178
Incapacitated Parent? Tread Carefully     179
Father’s Living Trust Is Missing     180
The Documents You Need but Probably Don’t Have     181
Who Needs an Estate Plan?     182
Why Estate Plan?     182
DIY Wills and Trusts Can Backfire     183
Can the Guardian of Your Kids Change His Mind?     183
Are Unequal Bequests a Good Idea, or Are They a Disaster in the Making?     184
Credit Cards Must Be Paid Before Estate Is Distributed     185
Executor Won’t Have to Pay Mother’s Debts out of Pocket     186
Dad Died Without a Will. What Now?     187
A Guide for Executors     187
What’s the Best Thing to Do with an Inherited IRA?     188
Social Security Benefits Don’t Last Forever     189
What Happens to Personal Loans After Lender Dies?     189

Index     191


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