I Feel Weird Saying This, But I Have Too Much Money

Dear Emilie: I’m panicking because I’m sitting on a pile of cash and feel paralyzed. What should I do with it? Save it for an emergency? Pay down my mortgage? Invest it? – Super Saver

Dear Super Saver: This is a good problem to have! Let’s set some priorities for using this money wisely and minimizing taxes.

First, do you have an emergency fund of readily accessible cash? Set aside three to six months of living expense in a money market fund or savings account. This is the money you can easily tap to cover living expenses if you lose your job. (more…)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Estate Plan

“Does it spark joy?” That’s what Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo says you should ask yourself when you’re deciding whether to keep each item in your home. The author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” says that if something doesn’t bring you happiness, you should set it free so it can delight someone else.

I doubt that anyone would say that their estate plan “sparks joy.” That doesn’t mean you need to get rid of it, though! But these documents, like your possessions, should be reevaluated periodically. (more…)

Hey Kids, Here’s How Much Money We Have…

As parents, we want to shield our children from so many of the harsh realities of the adult world. Sometimes we try to “protect” our kids from other facts, too, even benign ones. Many parents resist or avoid telling their children what they earn or how much money they have saved for college.

Some parents feel uncomfortable revealing this information. Perhaps they fear they might be judged or questioned. Maybe they wish they had tucked away more. If teens have their sights set on an expensive college, their parents may be reluctant to explain that a school is financially out of reach. (more…)

Bay Area Housing Dilemma

In most parts of the country, buying a home is a rite of passage for a young or newly married couple or someone who has settled into a career.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that at the end of last year, 64.2 percent of Americans were homeowners, but that percentage varies dramatically by age. Of people age 65 and older, 79.2 percent owned homes, but among those under 35, slightly more than one in three—36 percent—were homeowners.

If you live in the Bay Area, you might be chuckling at those statistics. Housing prices in this region are stratospheric and steadily increasing. Between the fall of 2016 and the fall of 2017, the median price for a single-family Bay Area home jumped 15 percent, to $825,000, a new high, according to CoreLogic. The dream of home ownership remains out of reach for many people, even when couples are each making six-figure incomes. (more…)

Change Your Money Mindset by Rejecting the “B-Word”

Is it possible to discuss spending and saving without mentioning the word “budget”?

Many people—and plenty of so-called financial experts—insist you can’t pay your bills, set enough money aside for retirement or understand your spending unless you create and follow a strict budget.

Their rationale is that when you see where your money goes, you can then trim your spending and siphon off cash for fun stuff like vacations or obligations like paying off your mortgage or credit cards. (more…)