Ask the Readers: What About Money DON'T You Know? (Chance to Win!)

by Linsey Knerl on 8 November 2010 58 comments
Photo: Jacob Botter

Think you have ALL the answers? Chances are good that you don't!

All of us have a chance to learn more than we already know, especially when it comes to money. Maybe you're unaware of the tax laws that could save your business money. Perhaps you're not quite sure how a mortgage works, or you aren't certain about the best way to save for retirement. Now is your chance to admit that you're not a know-it-all with this week's Ask the Readers.

What do you wish you knew more about when it comes to personal finance?  If you're honest about your opportunities for enlightenment, we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win one of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

How to Enter:

  • Post your answer in the comments below,
  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, then "Like" the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well — but you don't have to for entry.)
  • Tweet your answer. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, November 15th at 11:59 pm CST. Winners will be announced after November 15th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)
  • Only those who have "Liked" both our Facebook page and the contest update will be entered.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Eric

I'm not the most knowledgeable about money in general, at least in making it work for me. So investment advice for the newbie, particularly when it comes to making sure I have enough for retirement!

Guest's picture
Ben

I still don't understand how to do a budget! I found an excel sheet that looks like real good stuff about a 0 budget and spending all the money before it comes in and the like, as well as many others but I have a small paycheck! And it is a different amount every 2 weeks so how can I budget with the fluctuation being so random?

Guest's picture
Gary Burton

Take an average of income for 3 months, 6 months or just the lowest income month.
Get a pile of envelopes, wite on them food, gas[(if you do not use public transportation)
If you use public transportation then by a pass for the month.] Rent/house payment, misc {toothpaste, deoderate etc.) I hope you get the idea. Put the money in the envelope for the expense. (you may have to do this twice a month) You then fiqure what you spend in two weeks. Make sure you buy what you need not what you want. Etc beer, soda, chips, tobacco. we all can live with out such things. The envelopes work well for us plus we put receipts as we spend in the the envelope we took money from. Buy coffee on the road? Make a pot at home and put it in a closed mug. Buy lunch? Brown bag with a bottle of water from you tap at home. Buy Pizza take out; buy it at the store you can cook it at home.
little things add up. give it a try

Guest's picture

The stock market--if I could learn more about smart investing, I could maximize my investment protfolio

Guest's picture
Tara

I don't know enough about saving for retirement...

Guest's picture
Cameron

I wish that I knew more about the starting a home business and how "writing off" purchases to this business works.

Guest's picture
Sam

I don't know how to invest. I hear about all these great rates I'm supposed to be getting if I invest but I don't know where to start. I've yet to find a really good, basic online guide for a complete novice that reflects the current economic climate.

Guest's picture
Patrick

In the realm of investing, I know very little about options investing and forex investing. In the realm of personal finance, I don't know enough about HSAs, know how much to fund them and any tax advantages. I also don't know how to evaluate whether paying off my mortgage makes sense to get completely out of debt, namely based on return advantages compared to other assets and tax advantages of keeping a mortgage.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

I need to take the time to educate myself more about life insurance products. I have a whole life policy, as does my daughter. Both were sold to me by my ex-husband when we were dating. He was a life insurance salesman at the time. I took his word for it that they were good products, and perhaps they are. But I really don't understand them. So it's on my list of things to dive into and learn more about, one of these days!

Guest's picture

I really don't know where to invest my money outside of stocks, money market, and ETFs. Where else should I be looking to invest money to keep myself truly diversified?

Guest's picture
Guest

How do people start businesses?
How much initial investment does it take, and how long to break even - if at all?
I keep thinking about starting various web businesses, but even for those it seems like the initial outlay would be tricky to make back - and a real world business would have to be 10 times as hard.

Eg: small shop on Etsy - etsy fees, advertising fees, domain name fees, materials for products - seems you'd need to sell a pretty large number every month just to cover those costs - and that doesn't seem likely unless your store takes off big-time.

Guest's picture
Stephanie

haha! so glad you asked! I want to open a Roth IRA and even have the money ready to do it with, but I have no clue who to talk to about that. And, once I have one... do I have to manage it? I really don't know what all goes into it - is there an easy way with low to no fees involved?

Guest's picture
Marie

I used Vanguard and I like it. It seems like one of the lower-fee options out there. Opening one was very simple and I don't have to do anything to manage it (unless I choose to - for example, if I want to change my investments). Here's an explanation of how to open one: http://englishmajormoney.blogspot.com/2007/01/how-to-open-your-roth-at-v... (obviously you could choose another company if you desired).

Congrats on taking this step!

Guest's picture
Guest

There is a significant age gap between my husband and I, 17 years to be exact. I'd like to know if there are investment advantages in having an older spouse. For example, the obvious, we invest more in his retirement so that we can collect the tax advantage funds earlier than later. And he wants to benefit from some of the senior discounts to cut our spending on everyday necessities and gifts (i.e. Senior Tuesdays at Ross). I'm wondering what other measures we can take to benefit our situation. When the time comes, I want to make sure that he is still able to provide some income to our household while enjoying his retirement.

Guest's picture
Guest

I wish I knew when to sell an investment. I buy and hold a stock or mutual fund but if it goes down, I agonize about when to cut my losses. Sometimes a stock pick is doing really well and it might be a smart thing to take some of that gain and sell but I am not sure of when to do that either. I guess one hopes that the losers will come back and that the winners will keep going up.

Guest's picture
gt0163c

I wish I understood more about investing. So many options, so many different opinions and, seemingly, so many ways to screw it up.

Guest's picture
Norman

I wrestle with whether it is better to contribute to a Roth IRA or a Regular IRA. There are so many variables, it is hard to know which one is really the better deal. If tax rates are higher in the future, it might be best to contribute to a Roth IRA, but you don't get a tax deduction for it now like you do with a regular IRA. If you are in a lower tax rate in retirement, you might be better off with a regular IRA. Also, with a Roth, there will be no tax on the gain, whereas an IRA will be taxed as regular income in the future, so if you have a huge gain, it would be better in a Roth. See what I mean? Too many variables!

Guest's picture
Alicia C.

I know nothing about investing money. Absolutely NOTHING.

ohmiss14(at)yahoo.com

Guest's picture
Diane

I'd like to know how to choose where to invest in a Roth IRA~

Guest's picture
KelR1

I don't understand taxes at all. They're very confusing to me with all the laws and regulations and "if you did this then deduct that...". Makes my head spin! I think I get a headache every year when doing mine. Also the concept of escrow is a little fuzzy for me.

Guest's picture
Mike9999

I don't know how to buy gold or silver.

Guest's picture
Laurie

I am a grad student (read "low income tax bracket"). I don't have a lot of money (yet), but I know there are advantages to putting money into a ROTH IRA. I can't decide whether or not I should put money into a ROTH IRA now (before I get a job and jump into a much higher income tax bracket) or just play catch up. I need advice. :)

Guest's picture
Anne

I wish I knew more about what types of stocks to invest in with regard to my 401(k) portfolio. I think I'm pretty knowledgeable about budgeting and saving money, but when it comes to a 401(k), I still would like to learn more.

Guest's picture
Elena

I'd love to know how to make it work for me instead of the other way around.

Guest's picture
NTE

I just don't know how to make it stretch far enough to cover everything I think should be covered.

Guest's picture
Carmen

There are several things I don't feel comfortable with - but the biggest would be saving for retirement.

Guest's picture

I don't understand why people are willing to accept that a currency has value when it isn't backed by anything. "Because I said so" has never had much meaning to me, and I don't get why it means anything more just because government says it.

More of a rant than a question really, but still, I think it's an important thing to realize about most world currencies.

Guest's picture
Laura D

I still don't understand ETFs. One of these days...!

Guest's picture
Nicholas

I don't know anything about the stock market and how to invest within the market. I wish I knew more about what to look for and how to decide what I should invest in.

Guest's picture
Betty D

Glad you asked! When articles talk about how much $ you'll have when you retire, they talk about your savings, with an earnings of 8% or more. How are people gettting such a big return? I assume it's stocks, but I have a hard time believing it. My $ is earning peanuts in laddered CDs. I'm missing something! Along with this contest, can someone answer? Thanks!

Guest's picture
Patrick

I wish I knew more about how to do taxes, so I could do my own (my accountant has a slick tool and my return usually consumes a small tree's worth of paper; pretty complex return, but nothing I couldn't figure out).

I wish I knew why people price each other out of the market and why we don't realize that what's driving up costs of living is us (they can only price something at what people are willing to pay for it).

I wish I better understood the drivers of inflation and why it doesn't seem to bother anyone as much as it bothers me (unquestioned erosion of your purchasing power of roughly 3%/year)

I wish I knew why corporations feel it is acceptable to retain so much in profits, or allocate so much of it to upper management, rather than share more of it with the employees who trade their precious hours toiling for table scraps.

I wish I knew why it is acceptable for a mutual fund/hedge fund manager who doesn't beat the market to make millions in bonuses, or anything at all.

I wish I knew why federal politicians feel they deserve such high salaries when they deliver no meaningful legislation and are only successful at securing my child's ever-higher debt/tax burden.

Guest's picture
Gina

I don't know much about choosing stocks.

Guest's picture
Lynda

i wish i knew more about investing. i get lost at the mention of mutual fund or anything like that!

Guest's picture
peg

I still don't understand why they don't get rid of the penny.... ha ha. OK, I will admit I do not understand inflation.

Guest's picture

I'd really like to learn more about the Roth 401(k) to IRA conversion. I've heard conflicting information on how the money is taxed and I'm waiting to roll our money until I can get a definitive answer.

Guest's picture
Derek

I admit that I do not know everything about money, but I do know more than most. My wife and I have recently been exploring more avenues to make some more money.

We came up with 101 Ways to Make More Money. Check out this article and others on my website: http://www.lifeandmyfinances.com

Guest's picture
Stephanie

I wish I knew more about how much to save for retirement, and which way is the best way to do it.

Guest's picture
KristyOT

I wish I knew more about saving for retirement.

Guest's picture
Crystal B

I don tknow enough about investing or about taxes

Guest's picture
Sweta

I don't know the best way to spend money overseas. Should I use a debit/credit card? Or should I withdraw money before leaving in the form of travelers checks and convert to local currency once I arrive?

Guest's picture
Stephenie

I've been a big Dave Ramsey fan for years and have learned a ton listening to his show. Anything he said that didn't make sense to me I just went out and researched. So I feel pretty knowledgeable. However, I'm just starting my own business and business taxes are very confusing to me. I would love to learn more about that.

Guest's picture
Lauren

How can I cut down on my food budget each month without clipping tons of coupons? (I already know that eating at home more is the first step.) Where can I find good recipes that use healthy food and are freezable?

Guest's picture
Marie

I find taxes very confusing. I have a nagging suspicious that this results in my losing money each year.

Guest's picture
Cheryl

I wish I knew more about playing the stock market/investing. They really need to teach the basics of PF in high school, and this shouldbe included. If everyone knew a little more about the market, we can boost the economy with some investing.

Guest's picture
Kasey

I'd Like to know more about futures

Guest's picture
Christina

Foriegn economies, how it effects the US economy and what all the exchange rates mean...

Guest's picture

Money is THE BIG ILUTION ever.

All humanity are in deep sharing ilution. And is imposible get out.

Cheers.

Ken

Guest's picture
Elizabeth

I wish I knew more about making money from my hobbies and at what point a "hobby" becomes an accidental "business". I don't want to run a business so I never pursue any opportunities to make money with my hobbies because of that.

Guest's picture
Shelley

I wish I understood more about escrow!

Guest's picture

I just opened up my roth IRA but I'll admit I didn't know what funds I was buying.. I signed up for a lifecycle fund but also added a health sciences one. I've read investing books but I can't remember if that makes sense or not?!

Guest's picture

The stock market--if I could learn more about smart investing, I could maximize my investment protfolio

Guest's picture
Gary Burton

WE use cable here because of poor reception. We can only get ABC and 2 PBS stations. Satalite does not work during storms.

Guest's picture
Dustin

How can you write off business expenses if you technically have a business, but not an official license. If I'm a blog writer and have my own website where I am making money (it might not be a lot), what can I or can't I write off? Hosting sites I assume I can. If it's a movie blog, can I write off movie tickets that I review? Do I have to be making money from the blog to do so? Thanks a million!

Guest's picture
Toby Ann Reese

I didn't know that when you invested in a retirement account you could lose 50% of it when a company like AIG went under. I thought it was protected, so when that happened I was retired, and now find myself working two jobs just to survive. I think I would have just put my retirement money in a can and would have been better off at this point in time.

Guest's picture
Jean

How compound interest adds up so fast.

Guest's picture
Silvia Pavia

My biggest concern is paying my student loans from law school into my 60s. I am adamant about living below my means (it's more difficult now that I am looking for employment!) and the one thing I do not know about money is the exact savings I can achieve by paying it all off in the next 7 years. I am on track to get an interest rate deduction of .25% because I will have paid it automatically on a monthly basis for one year. I still have mroe than $100,000 to go, but I am hopeful that I can achieve my goal, given my fierce stance on frugality.

Guest's picture
MsSwagger00

My husband & I are pretty good with savings, but investing our savings & 401K money is the biggest question. Every time we change a job, there's a new 401k plan. Should we be consolidating these 401k plans for easier management. Interest rates are so low right now, where do we invest our money where it will yield higher than 3%, but at the same time, not be too risky. (We're middle-aged). Do we invest in something long-term or short-term because the economy may bounce back and we may have our investments locked in? What is the difference between a financial advisor, financial planner, financial consultant? Would these be the knowledgeable people to go to for these questions? What are their typical fees? Is it a percentage of what they are managing or a one-time fee? My retail bank has offered their personal bankers as well. Is this a good idea? Would these personal bankers provide the full gamet of services including tax services?

Guest's picture
SADie

the MAIN thing i DON"T know about money is WHERE IS HE HIDING IT? hubby is VERY frugal, which is why i left my $$$$$$ in his hands, but he's tucked away some here & some there & if i ask too many questions, he'll stop "keeping the books" & i need his expertise