For questions that relate to the laws, practices, and products of the United States.

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32
votes
4answers
2k views

Recent graduate with new job: Choose Roth 401(k), or traditional 401(k)?

I just graduated, and I'm starting a new job soon. My employer has pretty good policy for matching 401(k) contributions, so I want to invest as much as possible, especially during this first year. My ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

Started new job. Rollover previous employer 401k to new 401k, IRA or Roth IRA?

I recently started a new job and have a 401k from my previous employer that I don't know what to do with. Should I roll it into my new employer's 401k, a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA?
41
votes
3answers
4k views

Saving for retirement: How much is enough?

How to save I'm in my late twenties and am trying to get started off on the right foot saving for retirement. I have learned that retirement savings should usually be placed in retirement accounts in ...
23
votes
5answers
3k views

Strategies for putting away money for a child's future (college, etc.)?

So my wife and I will be having our first child at the end of the year, and I'm trying to devise a strategy for things like putting money away for the little person now, while I have the time and ...
13
votes
3answers
904 views

Why would you not want to rollover a previous employer's 401(k) when changing jobs?

Are there any valid reasons to not rollover a former 401(k) when changing jobs? I have several little ones that I never quite got around to rolling together - with an upcoming job change, should they ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

Where should I park my rainy-day / emergency fund?

This is the US companion of the same question for Canadians Where can I park my rainy-day/ emergency fund?. Basically I want to know what options I have for my emergency fund?
24
votes
14answers
2k views

Do I even need credit cards?

I'm 24, and so far I've been able to live without credit cards of any kind. My wife calls this "If we can't pay for it right now, we don't need it." Obviously this does not apply to our car and our ...
8
votes
1answer
5k views

ITIN application rejected, and IRS lost one of our passports. How to get back the lost passport?

I have filed my 2012 tax return jointly with my wife, along with my wife's ITIN application, back in late March. In April, I got a letter for IRS ITIN department saying that we should send my wife's ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

How bad would maxing out my credit card once a year affect my score

I just got approved for a $1500 cash secured credit card from Wells Fargo. This means I have no credit history whatsoever, and am going to use this card to establish one. With fall semester at ...
21
votes
6answers
74k views

Can I open a US bank account even if I don't live in the country?

I'm Swedish, but living in Switzerland at the moment. Can I open a US bank account? Either when in the US on vacation or through the internet/phone? Lots of situations when I find myself in need of ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Comparing IRA vs 401K's rate-of-return with dollar cost averaging

I have both an IRA in Vanguard and an old employer's 401k with Fidelity management. I would like to compare the performance between the two accounts over time, in order to determine if I should ...
14
votes
3answers
943 views

Need advice about my financial situation

Here is my living situation in a nutshell Live in California 2 kids (7 and 11) Ex-wife I am almost 40. I rent Financial situation: Make about $170k (includes regular job + moonlighting) before ...
11
votes
1answer
264 views

How do I freeze my credit?

If freezing your credit is a better way to protect your identity and the associated credit that goes along with it, how do I freeze my credit?
21
votes
4answers
7k views

Why is transferring money online to someone else's bank account so difficult in the U.S.?

I used to live in a poor, third world country (India) where I freely transferred money between my bank account (a savings account) to accounts held by my friends in different banks, and different ...
10
votes
2answers
5k views

Do personal checks expire? [US]

Do personal checks expire in the US? Also, if I stamp the following on it: VOID if not claimed within 60 days. Will that be honored by most banks? Related Do personal cheques expire? ...
-3
votes
1answer
912 views

F1 student, as a non-resident, filing married separate tax return with US Citizen wife [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: F1 student, as a non-resident, filing a joint tax return with US Citizen wife My income through CPT, as a F1 student for 2012 was $42k, of which I have paid $1300 in ...
19
votes
6answers
9k views

What U.S. banks offer two-factor authentication (such as password & token) for online banking? [closed]

Do you know of any US banks that allow you to have two-factor authentication (i.e. password and token) for your online account? Paypal does that, but it's not really a bank. For some reason banks seem ...
11
votes
2answers
913 views

Penalty to withdraw from a new Roth IRA for first time home buyers?

My wife & I are 28 and plan on purchasing our first home in the next 1-3 years. Right now our assets are in two places: 403-b that I will not touch for the next 30+ years FDIC-insured savings ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

I haven't filed a return to the IRS in 10 years

My employers have always withheld taxes and for the most part I've assumed they've done it right. I have probably owed a bit some years and been owed a refund some years. Anyhow, I want to get ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Should I really pay off my entire credit card balance each month or should I maintain some balance?

I've heard two conflicting things: One is that you should pay your entire credit every month, and the other that you should maintain roughly %30, %50 (it varies by who you ask) of your available ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Legal documents required for managing an investment portfolio among friends?

I am considering setting up a personal kind of hedge fund / stock portfolio among friends. I am trying to figure out what kind of a legal agreement I should have them sign for investing with me to ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

How to avoid having my father's down payment assistance get taxed as a gift

My father has offered to pay up to $70k towards a down payment on a condo for my wife and me. I understand that gifts of over $13k get taxed pretty heavily. Is there a way to avoid this when it comes ...
5
votes
3answers
636 views

What are the primary expenses I should account for in my budget upon college graduation?

I'm 22 and about to graduate from college in Chicago, Illinois with a bachelor's degree in a few months, and I'm creating a detailed budget based on my anticipated expenses. After significantly ...
11
votes
3answers
22k views

Would depositing large cash amounts cause problems?

I saw an article recently where a man withdrew $600,000 USD in cash from his bank. I'm sure many folks here would advise against this move for obvious (and perhaps not-so-obvious) reasons. My ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Can I get a rebate after using my HSA?

I used an HSA to buy some contact lenses. They came with a rebate form that I can send in to get a refund of about 1/5 of the purchase price. Is it okay to send away for the refund after using the ...
4
votes
6answers
337 views

What factors should I take into account when deciding how much of my 401(k) contribution should go into my Roth 401(k)?

My employer allows new contributions to my 401(k) to go in as Roth (post-tax) or "regular" (pre-tax). What should I consider when deciding how to distribute my contributions between the two?
2
votes
1answer
339 views

I have a 414(h) pension plan as a teacher in New Jersey. Am I permitted to also contribute yearly to an individual Ira?

My husband is a teacher in New Jersey; 61 years of age. He has a pension plan listed on w-2 in box 14 (other). It is coded as 414(h). He asked the tax advise person at the school if he could still ...
1
vote
1answer
589 views

Deduct Health Care Premiums for Family When Employer Only Pays for Me

My employer offers insurance coverage, pays a substantial amount for me, but pays nothing for my spouse or my children. The difference in cost is around $127/month for myself and $1,330/month if I ...
38
votes
7answers
1k views

How can one get their FICO/credit scores for free? (really free)

TV and the web are filled with ads promising to give you a free copy of your credit report. Unfortunately, instead of being wholly free, they are actually free trials, which means: You only get ...
28
votes
13answers
6k views

Why might it be advisable to keep student debt vs. paying it off quickly?

As of a couple weeks ago, I paid off all of my student debt. Hooray... But I have a friend named A who has a friend named B who is a financial advisor (a young so therefore perhaps ignorantly ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Any Experience with the Gone Fishin' Portfolio?

In doing research on How to Select IRA Investments, I stumbled across the Gone Fishin' Portfolio. This link where I found out about the portfolio claims that it is based on the 1990 economics Nobel ...
19
votes
1answer
589 views

What are the differences between a “traditional” IRA and a Roth IRA?

I hear that a traditional IRA offers a tax deduction whereas a Roth IRA doesn't, but there's got to be more to it than that: What makes a Roth IRA any good, if it doesn't provide a tax deduction? ...
17
votes
3answers
62k views

If I leave my job, what happens to my flexible spending account?

I am about to decide how much money to set aside for my 2013 Flexible Spending Account (FSA). (The max this year is $2500.) But I am wondering what happens if I switch employers during the year. Does ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

In what state should I register my web-based LLC?

DISCLAIMER: I understand that as a US corporation, you're required to pay taxes in whatever state you A) do business in, b) pay employees in, and c) have property in. I understand that registering in ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it better to use a 401k loan to make a down payment or to put less than 20% down?

I'm about to buy a house and am considering two options: Make a 12% down payment and pay for mortgage insurance Take out a 401k loan and make a 20% down payment I'm having a hard time finding ...
7
votes
3answers
430 views

How safe will Roth IRAs/401(k)s be going forward re: US's deteriorating fiscal position?

I've on and off wondered how "safe" Roth accounts are and things like this anti-Roth screed in the LATimes and this blog post at the Atlantic talking about the sad fiscal shape of the US has me ...
2
votes
2answers
942 views

Is it possible to eliminate PMI (Personal/Private Mortgage Insurance) on a mortgage before reaching 20% down on principal?

I am a relatively new home owner, having purchased my first home in October 2009. Overall, I feel I got an excellent deal on the loan, which was 5% no-cost, no points, and 12% down. I had to take on ...
15
votes
1answer
249 views

Is there a benefit to creating a donor advised fund to make charitable donations instead of simply donating to organizations each month?

I'm looking to set up recurring charitable donations to various groups, and I'm considering using a donor-advised fund through Fidelity or Vanguard. General question: Is there a benefit to placing ...
12
votes
2answers
666 views

Can a merchant charge you more in the US if you want to use a credit card?

I'm pretty sure the answer is no for Visa/MC and basically no for Amex, and it's actually illegal in some states, but what if they just rephrase it as "We're giving you a discount if you choose to pay ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Who keeps track of my contributions to my Roth IRA?

Since withdrawals up to the amount you contributed in a Roth IRA are tax and penalty free, who keeps track of that amount? I've transferred my Roth IRA from one broker to another so the new broker ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Could excess 401(k) contributions be used to game/maximize matches from different employers?

Suppose I max out my 401(k) really early. This avoids the risk that if I lose the job I would have lost the chance to contribute to it fully. However there is another risk. My company doesn't match. ...
8
votes
2answers
254 views

How can I find/compare custodians for my HSA in the United States?

I have a high-deductible health plan that qualifies me to open an HSA (Health Savings Account). Where are good places to find an HSA in the US? What sorts of features should I look for? What extra ...
8
votes
4answers
4k views

Can making a donation reduce your tax bill?

If my adjusted gross income is $1000, and I make a donation of $100, then it seems that I'm still going to have to pay a tax on the $1000. The donation is deductible, so I don't pay any tax on that, ...
6
votes
2answers
23k views

Multiple mortgage pre-approvals and effects on credit score

Background Info: My wife and I are looking to purchase our first home/condo. Given our combined gross annual income of ~$100k and lack of any actual debt, we're looking at properties in the $200-250k ...
6
votes
3answers
965 views

Should I wait a few days to sell ESPP Stock?

I have read three other threads about employee stock purchase plans (I get to buy company stock at a 15% discount) and come to the conclusion that I should sell most of my shares immediately after ...
16
votes
3answers
6k views

How should I handle taxes for Minecraft server donations?

I run a Minecraft server and there is a donation button so players can help support the costs. I pay out of pocket for the rest, it's $125/mo. The money they donate goes right to paypal which is ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Defaulting on credit cards before leaving the country

I have a colleague who is going back to his country after staying for a couple of years in US. He has 3-4 credit cards plus a personal loan. His total debt would come to around $10,000. Some days ago, ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Can Roth IRA first time home buyer withdrawals be made up?

If we were to withdraw the annual contributions from our Roth IRAs for the closing costs on a house (we have a 20% down payment, but only recently learned that that's almost $10,000 less than what you ...
6
votes
5answers
253 views

Need something more basic than a financial advisor or planner

Is there a professional that one can go to in order to assess one's current financial situation and get advice and follow-through on what one can do in order to correct financial errors one has made, ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Sending money from Canada to the US

I want to transfer money to an American bank account, but I am in Canada. What is the cheapest way to do so? MetaFilter has: USPS mail order - $700 limit, $4 charge Vanilla wire transfer (My bank ...