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Personal finance tips: When to buy a new car, and more

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Deciding to retire early

Stocks have been on a tear, said Liz Moyer at The Wall Street Journal, and the five-year bull market has allowed many investors to “at least ponder the possibility” of retiring early. But there are some important questions to ask before you cash in your nest egg ahead of schedule. First, have you saved enough? The market will inevitably dip, so it’s important to “discount the current value of your portfolio” to account for future drops in the market. Retirement also means lifestyle changes, including learning to live on a leaner budget. Drawing on other accounts — like 401(k)s, IRAs, or Social Security — ahead of selling assets can make your money last longer. Finally, have a backup plan prepared. “Retirement isn’t for everyone,” and “resting early could leave you bored and restless.”

When to buy a new car

When is the right time to spring for new wheels? asked Gerri Detweiler at Credit.com. With the average car payment hovering around $350 a month, buying a new car is “not a decision to be taken lightly.” So before you head to a dealer, make sure the time is really right. Safety is first on the checklist. If your vehicle isn’t safe, or you fear it will break down and leave you stranded, it’s time for something more reliable. “Keep the hassle factor in mind as well.” If your car is racking up repairs, replacing it may be a better option for your budget. Finally, check that it fits your lifestyle. A new job or growing family could mean your current car no longer makes sense.

Beware of debit cards on campus

Debit card fees are the latest “campus peril” for college students, said Kelley Holland at CNBC. A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has found that debit card issuers are frequently charging “hefty overdraft fees,” which “are hitting millennials and college students especially hard.” That’s because debit cards are increasingly replacing credit cards on college campuses, partly because schools “have lucrative deals with outside companies to provide the cards in exchange for payments to the schools.”

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