Finance

Send Michelle Singletary the money questions you want answered

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I remember getting my Social Security statement a few months before my birthday. For years it was the perfect time for me to think about my financial future.

Oh no letters stopped arriving more than a decade ago as the government sought to save money. Now you go online, except in some limited situations, yes Sign up for your statement – which, by the way, it has been redesigned in 2021 with a lot of useful information.

But even without that annual reminder, you can make your birthday an occasion to reflect on how you’re handling your finances. What should you be doing in your 20s? When you turn 40, ask if you are pension savings are on the right track. Hit 60? The late or early Social Security taking debate confronts you this decade. You are 80 years old and still have no willpower. what it is?

To help guide you in your financial self-examination, I’ve created, with the amazing team at The Washington Post, an interactive guide — money milestones for every age. You can find it at vapo.st/financial-birthdais.

Michelle Singletary’s Money Milestones for All Ages

I have received hundreds of questions over the years from readers across the country. In this guide, I’ve compiled the most common ones, from loans to wealth creation to housing and health care.

There’s advice for every decade of your financial life, from twenty-somethings just starting out to retirees enjoying the fruits of their smart planning.

There’s also a “Post Reports” podcast that includes a conversation with my two 20-year-old daughters. We talked about their struggle with adults. They have some stories. Get ready to laugh and cry as I discuss the money issues that dominate our lives.

Post Reports: How to be smart with your money at any age

I wrote this project with you in mind. Whenever I read a poll or study that says Americans are financially illiterate, I want to scream “It’s not their fault!”

Yes, some people flounder because of bad choices. But the decisions you have to make about your money can be overwhelming, and it’s hard to know who to trust to help you make the right decisions.

“I would say more than anything that scares me about adulthood is that there’s no set path,” my youngest, Jillian, said during the podcast. “Do I want to stay in this job?” Do I want to move to another country? Do I want to stay in that area? These are all big question marks. And that’s what makes me crazy about growing up.”

That’s saying a lot, considering she has a mother who spent most of her career writing about personal finance and an equally savvy money management father.

What we’ve done is put together a collection of important financial questions, paired with links to my columns over the years and other articles as resources. But as I put this project together, I knew I couldn’t hit every problem at the beginning. So this is where I need your help.

To improve the project, we will add questions from readers. How do you feel about your money?

“I didn’t see anything about funerals in your excellent column about money milestones,” emailed Jim Ward of Alexandria, Va. “Should I prepay my funeral?”

Next month I will update the project and add Ward’s question.

Many people believe they have taken care of their funeral expenses with prepaid funeral and burial contracts, only for their family to discover after their death that there is more to pay. That is if they can find the information for a “preneed arrangement”, as it is sometimes called.

“I have just buried my brother, whose grave has been paid for in advance, but not the funeral,” Ward wrote. “My brother talked about pre-planning, but after going through his papers, we found nothing.

What followed was a search for a policy that they thought was in place.

6 Joyful Steps to End-of-Life Planning

“We contacted the funeral home that his church uses and found that he had not made any arrangements,” Ward said. “The funeral home contacted the church cemetery and we discovered that he had bought the plot.”

Ward ended up paying the funeral expenses out of his own pocket.

A friend pointed out something else missing from the project — a section dedicated to people from the 90s and beyond.

There are 2.4 million people over the age of 90 in the United States, including 2.3 million people ages 90 to 99 and nearly 98,000 centenarians, according to the Census Bureau’s 2021 one-year estimates.

In a 2011 edition, a demographer from the Bureau had this to say: “Traditionally, the cut-off age for what is considered the ‘oldest old’ has been 85, but more people are living longer and the elderly population itself is getting older. Given its rapid growth, the 90-and-over population deserves a closer look.

In 2016, there were 81,000 centenarians in the United States. That number is expected to increase to 589,000 by 2060, according to census estimates. By 2050, people aged 90 and over are expected to reach 10 percent of the population aged 65 and over.

We stopped giving advice to people in their 80s. I thought Americans over 80 would benefit from the same advice that was given in the previous decade. But they deserve their own section, which will be combined with centenarians.

As with any endeavor of this depth and breadth, something is inevitable left out. But I’ll do my best to answer more of your most pressing financial questions. And you may not agree with my advice, but the goal is to facilitate the conversation by being intentional about your money. I hope that I have done this and that you will be an active participant in helping me identify topics to add to this project.

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