Advice | Is it still a bad time to buy a house? What’s your advice for newlyweds?


I want to help you. So, on a regular basis, I’ll be opening up my Twitter DMs to take your questions.

There’s so much misinformation out there, so let me help clear the clutter and steer you on ways to save money or avoid financial heartache.

Below is a transcript of questions received in early June. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity, and Twitter handles have been removed.

If you want more personal finance advice that’s timeless, order your copy of Michelle Singletary’s Money Milestones.

Q: Home interest rates don’t seem to be falling anytime soon. Is it a bad idea to purchase a home interest rate between 6 to 8 percent? Or does one hold off until it’s under, say, 6 percent?

A: It’s so hard to predict where mortgage rates will go, I would work the numbers and just determine if this is the right time to purchase a home using current rates. If the numbers tell you it’s a stretch and that you can’t also save for emergencies or retirement, then hold off until you’re in a better financial position.

The housing market recession is already ending

Q: I’m 60 and my husband is 64. We hope to retire in the next couple of years. We have retirement plans from our jobs but we have also been saving money into our saving account. What’s the max we should have in a regular banking account? What should we do with the rest?

A: My husband will be retiring soon so we are right where you are — thinking about how to manage money on retirement income and savings. First be sure you have a retirement budget, and indicate how you will pay for things using the various sources of income — pension, investments, savings.

Based on interviews with financial planners they suggest you have a least a year’s worth of expenses saved or funds coming from fixed income. The idea is to have money not subject to the whims of the stock market if it goes into a tailspin. And saved money/emergency funds should be kept in the highest yielding account you can find with an institution that serves your needs and is FDIC insured. So if you like banking online, move money to an online-only institution. But if you need to visit branches or travel a lot and will be making a lot of ATM withdrawals, consider a financial institution that will serve those needs.

Stock market lurches got you jittery? Here’s some advice

Q: Hi, this is not exactly a finance question but it relates. I am 61 and was laid off two years ago (on Inauguration Day!) from an executive assistant position. My salary was six figures. After severance and unemployment, I’m now living off the savings I was proud to have accumulated. Do you have any suggestions for someone who is too young to retire but seemingly too old to get a new job?

A: Although we keep hearing that there are plenty of jobs out there, as you and others are finding out, many of the jobs aren’t what people are looking for. In your case, think about what additional training you might be able to get to boost your skills and marketability. Look at what the local community college is offering for career transitions. You may find a certificate program that can help you find a position right for you and your bank account.

The layoff survival guide: What to do before, during and after

Q: What is the best advice you’d give to newlyweds?

A: One thing I recommend to newly married couples is to schedule a weekly financial date. Not a budget meeting, but a date to share your thoughts on your finances. Talk about your financial goals, or spending that may have gotten out of hand that week. The date is to just talk — no numbers crunching. You want to establish an open line of communication with no judgment, fussing (or cussing).

Q: My daughter just graduated college and wants to use her gifted graduation money to open a Roth IRA. What are some reliable sources she can use to research and learn how to choose an investment and provider?

A: First, keep in mind she has to have taxable income equal to the gifted graduation money to contribute to a Roth IRA. To learn more, I recommend that you send your daughter to Have her first read what a Roth is, how much she can contribute each year, etc. As for a provider, have her research low-cost index funds and providers to put into her Roth.

Q: Hi Michelle! Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out if, or when, I should convert my 401(k) to a Roth 401(k). I know about the nontaxable part of the Roth 401(k) during retirement, but I also know about the tax costs when converting a 401(k) to a Roth 401(k) as well as how I’d be contributing post-tax dollars to this plan. So here are my questions: 1) How do I calculate how much it would cost me to convert from a 401(k) to a Roth 401(k)? 2) With my current tax bracket (22 percent), would converting hurt me more than help me? Do you actually save more with a Roth 401(k) in the long run, compared to a traditional 401(k)? I already have a Roth IRA separate from work, so do I really need a Roth 401(k)?

A: You are asking great questions. I would recommend you seek advice from a fee-only financial planner who can take a look at your entire retirement plan to see what’s best for you.

Q: I have a question about nontaxable investment accounts! I have a nontaxable investment account that was started for me over 20 years ago. It only has mutual funds in it. The growth is good, but should I try to make this account more passive than active in investing? I thought about selling all of the mutual funds and using that money (as well as what’s been earned) and investing in more exchange-traded funds or target date funds. But not sure if that’s a good idea or not.

A: I would recommend you seek advice from a fee-only financial planner who can take a look at your entire retirement plan to see what’s best for you.

B.O.M. — The best of Michelle Singletary on personal finance

If you have a personal finance question for Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary, please call 1-855-ASK-POST (1-855-275-7678).

Recession-proof your life: The tsunami of economic news is leading consumers, investors and would-be homeowners alike to ask whether a recession is inevitable. Regardless of the answer, there are practical steps you can take to help shield yourself from a worst-case scenario.

Credit card debt: Carrying credit card debt is never good and you should ditch the habit. Here are seven ways to lower your credit card debt in light of the Fed continuing to raise interest rates.

Money moves for life: For a more sweeping overview of Michelle’s timeless money advice, see Michelle Singletary’s Money Milestones. The interactive package offers guidance for every life stage, whether you’re just starting out in your career to living an abundant life in retirement.

Test Yourself: Do you know where you stand financially? Take our quiz and read advice from Michelle.


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