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

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27
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
36
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
21
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
1k 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?
21
votes
14answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

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

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?
7
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
762 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 ...
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
745 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 ...
-3
votes
1answer
675 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
44k 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
7k views

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

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 ...
10
votes
1answer
165 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?
10
votes
2answers
746 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
3answers
851 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
814 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
451 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
3k 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? ...
1
vote
1answer
362 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 ...
32
votes
6answers
919 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
931 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
487 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? ...
14
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
221 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
612 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
216 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 ...
7
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. ...
7
votes
4answers
3k 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, ...
7
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
12k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
202 views

How to find a savings or money market account with a high interest rate / yield?

I have my emergency fund in an ING Direct savings account. The saving account does not really give a good return and I was wondering what are my options? I want to put the money in some sort of ...
3
votes
1answer
495 views

Are Investment Research websites worth their premiums?

There are websites that claim to own formulas that outperform the market. Examples of these websites are - Zacks Investment Research or Investors Business Daily. Each keep a list of equities that they ...
2
votes
1answer
987 views

First time home-buyer incentives require 3 years of primary residence, but can I move if I'm laid off?

My wife and I are 25-months into an FHA loan (we received a first time home buyer tax credit), and I seem to recall that we cannot sell or rent the property for at least 36-months. That wasn't a ...
1
vote
1answer
196 views

Taxes and part-time consulting

I'm married and my wife and I work full-time. And I also started part-time consulting on the side (less than 10 hours per week or no hours during certain weeks). This is my first time doing consulting ...
26
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 ...
21
votes
8answers
7k views

How do I know when I am financially stable/ready to move out on my own?

Some background information: I'm 23 and living at home. I have a good full time job as a web programmer that I've been at for over one year. It includes benefits and 401K (which after one year I ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Possible replacement for Quicken

I have been using quicken to track my financial life for about 10 years now and am generally happy with it. A couple of years back Intuit changed the ability to download stock quotes for 2 years ...
6
votes
1answer
522 views

PMI cancellation based on original mortgage amount

We bought a house in 2005, and since we did not put 20% down, we have been paying PMI. Since then, the value of our home (and neighborhood) has declined. Our principal balance is currently 77% of ...
23
votes
7answers
1k views

How to help a financially self destructive person?

My ex-wife is a mess, financially speaking. After the divorce, her house that she won in the divorce was foreclosed on, filed for bankruptcy, owes money to pretty much everyone that tried to help her ...
16
votes
6answers
3k views

Would it make sense to buy a rental property as an LLC and not in my own name?

I'm considering buying a rental property. Would it make sense forming an LLC and purchasing it in the name of my company, rather than owning it directly? Considerations: pros: I don't want my name ...
12
votes
3answers
926 views

I just moved to the United States. What should I do to develop a good credit rating, fast?

I just moved to the US for working purposes, and found out that for a lot of stuff you buy, you need to have a good credit rating (or pay more, or make a security deposit, etc). I found out also that ...
10
votes
9answers
4k views

Should I stockpile nickels?

As the US dollar continues to be devauled the metal content value of US coins will eventually be worth more than the face value of the coins. There use to be silver in US coins but due to the ...
7
votes
2answers
16k views

Will I have to pay taxes in India when I transfer money from a US bank to an Indian savings account?

I am currently in US, and would like to transfer some amount from my US Bank account to a savings account based in India on a monthly basis through a third party like Xoom or Transfast. If I'm going ...
6
votes
3answers
362 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
954 views

Does the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) require insurance to be paid with pre- or post-tax dollars?

I would like to continue paying for health insurance with pre-tax dollars. But, according to this Washington Post article, buying healthcare through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

How do I make a small investment in the stock market? What is the minimum investment required?

I am not rich, so I am talking one to two hundred U.S. dollars per month only. I would like to know whether I can buy stock using that little amount of money, and how to do that if possible? As an ...