Family, Polls, Resources, Retirement

Top 5 Questions That I Want Someone To Answer

I have been writing about personal finance for more than two years. I think that I have a pretty decent grasp on the “basics” of debt reduction, saving money, and living on a budget. But, I still have many questions about money, money management, and investing. So, I turn to you, my fellow bloggers and faithful readers. Here are 5 questions that I have about personal finance. If you have a blog, pick a question (or questions) and write a post (or link to a post you have already written) and let me know your answer. If you don’t have a blog, but would like to answer any (or all) of the questions, simply leave a comment! (I’ll be including this submission over at Problogger as part of the “Top 5 Group Writing Project“)

1. Should I invest my retirement funds in ETFs, Mutual Funds, Bonds, or Individual Stocks? Depending on your answer, what should the proper “mix” be?

2. Should I use an Education Savings Account or a 529 Plan to save for my kids’ college education?

3. What 5 personal finance books should I read?

4. Should I give my children an “allowance” or should I only give them a “salary” based on “chores” that they do around the house?

5. How can I save money on food, especially “healthy food”? Now that I am losing weight, I am finding it difficult to find coupons for “real” food. Any thoughts?

I look forward to reading your posts / comments.  If you are new to my site, consider subscribing.

52 thoughts on “Top 5 Questions That I Want Someone To Answer

  1. #5: Find a local farmer’s market. My town is starting one up this year; I can’t wait for it to open. I recognize there won’t be much in the way of food until mid/late summer (this is Maine after all) but for a few months at least we’ll be able to eat like kings w/o stretching the budget.

  2. My view on the allowance issue is that our kids are expected to help around the house whether or not they’re being paid. It’s part of being a family. Thus, we give them a small allowance to simply to help them learn to manage their money. We’ll pay a bit extra if they go way above and beyond the call of duty, but otherwise their chores are there to be done regardless.

  3. My opinion on #4:

    Children should not be given an allowance or paid for chores around the house. Of course, they should be taught about personal responsibility and be expected to take care of themselves.

    They will be better able to learn about personal finance and fending for themselves by working for cash outside of the home and dealing with others not related to them.

  4. NCN, I just posted an article that describes some generic thoughts on retirement fund allocation. Let me know if you have more specific questions, I’d be happy to give you some ideas.


  5. I disagree with some of you on #4. Children should be paid for chores (work) around the house because it teaches them the value of hard work and getting paid for it. There are very few free things in the world and that’s great way to instill this value. However, I don’t believe children should receive an allowance without doing any work. Some children receive a weekly allowance “just because” and that teaches them the value of entitlement. That they’re entitled to an allowance because they were born or because their friends get an allowance, etc. Children become spoiled because of that.

    Another point, children who don’t receive “wages” or an allowance still get “paid” by their parents when they buy things for them (clothes, school supplies, etc.). Why not give them “wages” for chores and let them manage their own money. If they don’t have enough, they can’t buy it. What better way is there to teach the values of personal responsibility with money.

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  7. You should give your children a small allowance and then offer them the chance to earn more by doing tasks around the house, that’s what I plan on doing at least.

    Great tips, have a look at my group writing project as well if you get the time.

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  10. 1. Invest your money in rub off lottery tickets. Your chances may not be that good of winning, but it sure is fun scratching the tickets to see if you won!

    2. Have your child learn a trade like carpentry. It’s a lot less expensive than college.

    3. Books schmooks! You can’t believe what you read anymore.

    4. It’s free labor. Use the line “as long as your in my house, you’ll live by my rules!”

    5. Don’t you know? The food makers want you to be fat so you eat more, that’s why only bad food has coupons/is on sale.

    In all seriousness, consult a professional broker on questions 1,2 and 3. For question one you should always have diversity in your investments, never putting all eggs in one basket. Question 2, I opened a 529 account for my son and I can tell you that it is probably the best option out there.

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  12. “2. Should I use an Education Savings Account or a 529 Plan to save for my kids’ college education?”

    My opinion is No. You should beef up your IRA. Anything that has your child’s name on it will be counted as an asset held by them an decrease their eligibility for financial aide. Your retirement accounts cannot be considered for that purpose and withdrawals for qualified educational expense can be made at no penalty.
    I have nothing in my daughter’s name so essentially she has no assets. They’re not in my name either. My mother has all of my daughter’s assets under her name. Her assets would not be called into play in consideration of mine or my daughter’s financial status. So that’s how we’re doing it.

    As always, though, you really should speak to a fee-based financial professional to get the most current and accurate information regarding your financial plans.

  13. “4. Should I give my children an “allowance” or should I only give them a “salary” based on “chores” that they do around the house?”

    The way it was done with me growing up is, a stack of quarters was placed out at the beginning of each week. If I didn’t do the regular stuff I was supposed to do, each nit-picky item had a value and I got to watch my stack dwindle as the week went on if things continued to go undone. I could also earn back what I had lost by doing extras IN ADDITION to catching up with the stuff I had to do anyway.
    This is not unlike the real-world reality of, if you don’t show up to work, you don’t get paid, but sometimes you can make up the work and do some overtime.

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  15. There are far too many ways to answer your first question depending on whose investment philosophy (or financial adviser) you use. John Bogle promotes investing in low-fee index funds which makes a lot of sense if you read his analysis of the mutual fund industry.

    Also, I’ve opened 529s for my kids. Though I researched the options at the time, I don’t recall why I went with the 529.

    On the subject of food, healthy food is its own investment. Fresh produce and whole foods usually cost more than their refined or global counterparts, but they’re better for you. Save money by learning how to cook delicious meals with quality ingredients rather than eating most of your meals out. Also, if you have access to Trader Joes, you can get healthy food at reasonable prices.

    Hope this helps!

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  17. ==============
    5. How can I save money on food, especially “healthy food”? Now that I am losing weight, I am finding it difficult to find coupons for “real” food. Any thoughts?

    I am not a financial genius, nor do I play one on TV. I am on a diet as well, and in the beginning I thought I was paying more for food. It evens out though.

    I can tell you this. I now buy beans, brown basmati rice, and oatmeal(steel cut) in bulk at my local A can of steel cut oatmeal in the grocery store is over $7 for 28 oz, and a pound of bulk is $1.29.

    If you have a fruit and vegetable stand near you, get your fresh produce there. I have one near me and the produce is cheaper and better than the local grocery stores.

    Good luck!

  18. Answers:
    #1 Your best retirement strategy is to own your own home outright (no mortgage) by the time you are 60. Now is the best time to buy. Prices are the lowest ever. Buy a foreclosure. Putting this off is foolish. Have your employer adjust your salary when you move into your new home. Will you be working for your employer after you are 60? Will home prices be this low ever again? Give it five years.
    #2 Save for your own retirement. You don’t know what 55 feels like. 60 is worse and it doesn’t get any better. By the time you retire, you will be older and your kids will still be young. let them take out low cost student loans and let them pay it off themselves. get off the guilt trip.
    #3 Wealth Without Risk by Charles Givens
    The Automatic Millionaire by bach
    Rich Dad, Poor Dad
    The Courage to be Rich by Suze Orman
    Your Money or your Life (Not by Neil Cavuto)
    Watch Suze Orman on CNBC every Saturday nite @9PM EST. It’s a free one hour financial training seminar. Listen to real people’s financial problems.
    #4 Is someone paying you to be a father or a mother? I didn’t think so. So, why are you paying your children to be kids. No allowance. Stupid.
    #5 Grow your own vegetables and fruit. You live in a warmer climate. grow your own herbs. learn how to cook. Watch PBS (Public Broadcast) cooking shows such as Lidia’s, Every Day Food, America’s test Kitchen. DO NOT watch Paula Deen, Bafefoot Contessa (look at the size of those women!) nor Raychel Ray (evoo yuck!)
    There are NO coupons for healthy foods. Go to the farms, buy the produce in season, learn to cook, can and freeze for the winter. Join a vegetarian group-get great ideas! Log onto vege web sites! Learn to love beans, brown rice and the wonders of soy and tofu!

  19. Disclaimer: I’m a big Dave Ramsey fan.

    1. I’m 38. I invest my retirement funds in mutual funds. One of them is blended, so I get about 7% bonds. But I have been 100% stock since I started around age 24. I don’t know anything about ETFs. Individual stocks are very risky, especially if your employer is the individual stock. My employer does not have its stock as a retirement plan choice. However, I’ve been very blessed to have an employer whose stock has returned about 2400% since I started working here at age 24.

    My wife used to work at the same company as I do. We just rolled her 401k over to an IRA. We’re using a specific investment method that uses individual stocks and options. Learn more at

    2. ESA is better since you can pick the investments. But there are income limits and you can only contribute $2000 a year. 529 plans are all over the map. I’m trying to pick one now, in fact. My kids are 7 and nearly 5. I’m leaning toward the direct-sold NY plan. My state does not have an income tax, so I have many choices. I’m not thrilled with the returns of the funds in the 529 plans for the most part, but then I’m more inclined to tinker and pick than some.

    3. Five Books:
    – The Bible (lots of financial guidance in there that still applies today)
    – Total Money Makeover or Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey
    – The Millionaire Next Door
    – Getting Things Done
    – Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

    4. We do salary (“commission”) only.

    5. In my experience, healthy food is usually cheaper (fresh vs. processed). However, organic food is another matter. Make sure you actually eat what you buy and don’t put the healthy food off until it’s no good anymore. We struggle with this in my house.

  20. Very nice! I am the writer of “Top 5 things to do in Istanbul” This was my first group activity, but i liked it very much.

    Have you ever been to Istanbul which links east to west, and west to east like a weblink. Istanbul played such a critical role in the world politics and culture throughout the history.

    Now i have a dream i would like to share with you and Darren Rowse. All the Probloggers should meet at Istanbul and join the 29th edition of the Eurasia Marathon on Sunday 28th of October, 2007.

    Let’s meet where the continents meet : As the Istanbul Eurasia Marathon starts from the Anatolian side while taking the runners to the most beautiful spots of town, signing its name under a touristic attraction as well. The Bosphorus is one of the most beautiful spots on the world and as you run through it, history of the centuries run with you on the streets.

    I joined the 28th Intercontinental Istanbul EurAsia Marathon on 5th of November, 2006 together with my friends, Joe and Suat San. We enjoyed the wonderful Bosphorus, and beautiful streets of Istanbul on a cold but sunny Sunday morning. The slogan for last year’s marathon was “let’s run for a non-smoking world”.

    this was my blog post for last year’s marathon:

    I would be happy to invite you to the 29th Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon, the only marathon to run between two continents – Europe and Asia. Istanbul is one of the oldest settlements on the world. What about participating in the 29th EurAsia Marathon in 2007 which takes place in the most beautiful places of a wonderful city that has been the capital of three empires ?

    You may find details about the marathon here:

    Please let me know if you are interested.

    Have a nice day!

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