Ask the Readers $200 Giveaway: What is Your Top Question About Personal Finance?

By Ashley Jacobs on 13 September 2016 246 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to our winners Cindy, Stacy W., and Mary B.!

Personal finance covers a lot of ground—from budgeting and saving, to managing debt and dealing with insurance, to investing for the future and more. With such wide-ranging topics, it can be hard to master them all. And if you’re like most people, you probably have questions.

What is your top question about personal finance? Are you confused about investing? Not sure how much you need to save for retirement? Looking to figure out how to save more money for a vacation, your child’s college education, or in case of an emergency? Or is there another area of personal finance you are looking for information on?

This week, to celebrate the new look and enhanced functionality of SchwabMoneyWise.com, a financial education site created by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., Charles Schwab is sponsoring $200 in prizes for our Ask the Readers giveaway! Make sure to tell us about your number one financial question and we'll enter your name into a drawing to win a $150 or one of two $25 Amazon Gift Cards!

Win a $150 Amazon Gift Card or 1 of 2 $25 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Comment Entry for a Chance to win a $150 Amazon Gift Card:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $150 Amazon Gift Card!

To win one of two $25 Amazon gift cards:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Use our Raffle copter widget for your chance to win one of two $25 Amazon Gift Cards:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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, September 19th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after September 19th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is not sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

This week, our Ask the Readers giveaway is sponsored by Charles Schwab to celebrate their newly updated site, SchwabMoneyWise.com!

Here is a message from our sponsor:

At Schwab, financial education isn't just about learning to manage money. It's about opportunity and a brighter future. That's why providing people with the tools to take hold of their finances and help improve their lives—whether they're just starting out or facing retirement—is our primary focus.

For a teen on the verge of independence or a senior struggling to make ends meet, financial education can mean the difference between poverty and prosperity, between feeling helpless or hopeful. Through a variety of public-service initiatives, including our collaboration with Boys & Girls Clubs of American on MoneyMatters and the Schwab Moneywise programs, we work to give people tangible ways to take action—and control – of their money.

We’re excited to share an updated SchwabMoneyWise.com, filled with tools and resources to help you achieve your financial dreams, whether you’re a new grad just getting started on the path to financial freedom, a parent saving for your kids’ college education or a recent retiree planning your next adventure. For more financial education information, follow Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz at @CarrieSchwab or on LinkedIn.

©2016 Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (Member SIPC) All rights reserved.

Amazon is not a participant in or sponsor of this giveaway and is not affiliated with Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

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Guest's picture
Karla

When and or/if should a teenager,young adult get their first credit card?

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Benjamin K.

What's the best way to invest money for our children's future? Some investment programs can only be used as college funds, but we don't want to limit it to just that (although we do expect them to go to college to haha). Thanks!

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Linda Szymoniak

My question is, if faced with a serious medical emergency with a large co-payment after insurance, is it best to dip into savings, borrow against value on life insurance, or take on a loan (for example, a refinanced mortgage if you still owe on your home, a second mortgage, or taking on a mortgage if you have the home paid off). We had this situation a while back and my husband and I were at odds as to what we should do.

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Michelle

I have a LOT of college debt. How much of my income should I put toward retirement?

I want to pay down my debt, but I also want to save toward retirement (and a tax accountant recommended I increase my retirement savings for the tax deductions - I have almost no right-offs).

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Christie

How much do I really need to save for retirement? We have profit sharing at my hubby's office and a Roth IRA for me, but how much should we be putting aside as a goal?

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Adam S

How am I supposed to save for anything when everything keeps going up in price because the top 1% are determined to destroy the middle class?

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Anne Burner

My question is where is the best place to roll over a 401(k) from a previous employer? I'm gearing up to leave my current job in the next few months, and I want to safeguard those funds from any penalties.

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LMar

Should I start saving for retirement if I still have student loan debt?

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Ernest S.

Here's my question: My company offers both a traditional 401K and a Roth 401K. Is there a clear winner between the two? How do I gauge whether one is the better choice for me?

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Jeff

is my savings realistic for an early retirement?

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Rebecca Ross

My top financial question is: How can we get a lower interest rate on our very old, already consolidated school loans?

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Jason

I'd like to know if there's a way to work out an investment plan that is tailored to meet my exact needs.

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Debi

My top financial question is how to teach my kids how to handle money well. I've learned a lot of things myself the hard way, so I'd love to have more tools to pass on to her.

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Richard Brandt

Where is my money safe?

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KateV

I'm not sure what my question is exactly... I'm swamped in student loan debt. I have a full time job, I still live with my father, I don't waste money on "extras" like expensive clothes, going out, trips, etc. But I barely make ends meet. There's nothing left over to put into savings- and so I can't get ahead at all. How does a young person in such a situation even start out saving?
Also, I tweeted/liked, but I accidentally pasted the wrong link, and now rafflecopter won't let me correct it. Hope that doesn't disqualify me!

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Destiny

How much should you have saved away in an emergency fund at any given time?

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Deb P

When should I start withdrawals on one of my retirement accounts?

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Lisa Puckett, @MykidsMylife72

Oh, I would actually love to know how much my husband and I should be saving for retirement? Any tips on how or how much we should put back, please?

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Katrina Dehart

How do you save money when you live paycheck to paycheck and your pay is variable?

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Miss kim

What's the difference between a Roth IRA and a 401K?

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Ashley Park

I don't have a traditional job and have never worked for anyone before so how do I set up a 401K? I won't have a pension or anything so how do I save up for retirement?

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Karen

My question is what is the best kind of account you can put extra money into so it will draw a fair amount of interest?

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Brooke Banks

Oh, so many questions. But my #1 would have to be:
What's the best way to save money for my daughter's education and pay off my debts?

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Kim Niland

What's the best interest with the highest guaranteed interest?

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Jenny W

I'd like to know what is the best way to save for my kids college, and what happens if they decide not to go?

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Chelle

Thanks for the opportunity to win!

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Chelle

I suggest a link to your FB page.
The links here are for sharing this post only. :)

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ERICA WEAVER

i dont even know where to start how can i save for a down payment on a house as a first time buyer

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Ephraim

What is the minimum income someone should have to be able to make a retirement fund?

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Wehaf

I want to know how to choose and manage my investments - how do I estimate and balance risks? What sort of return should I be looking for at a given stage of life?

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Jenny Gunnoe

What's the best way to invest?

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amanda roach

thanks for the amazing chance

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al

How to explain to a recent college grad that their subsidized student loan interest rate is tiny compared to what adults are paying.

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Crystal Walker

How can I pay off Credit cards faster than the required time frame when paying monthly payments

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Regenia Newton

My question is regarding bankruptcy, can items not be included that you wish to payoff on your own?

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lisa

there is not way i will ever pay off my $100k in student loan debt...why can't this be at least partially reduced with bankruptcy bc stupid credit card debt is forgiven all the time. so not fair.

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Michelle Elizondo

My #1 financial question is knowing where exactly to invest that gives good interest & no
heavy tax.

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John Leahy

When does it make sense to transfer a 104K to an IRA?

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Melissa Johnson

I'm extremely worried about saving for retirement! We have no steady income so it seems like we're always broke & there's no extra money to put into a savings!

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Christy Peeples DuBois

I recently read that the stock market will crash again in the near future like it did years ago. Do you foresee this happening?

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Christy Peeples DuBois

I recently read that the stock market will crash again in the near future like it did years ago. Do you foresee this happening?

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Debbie F

How best to figure out how much money you need before retirement?

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Angelica

My number one financial question is whether it's better to save cash now or quickly pay off a mortgage. Our interest rate is low, but we could easily pay our house off within 7 years if we snowballed extra funds into it and then save a ton of money once we have no mortgage payment. What's the best option in the long haul?

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Annalisa Linder

My number one financial question is: is it better to pay off all credit card debt and postpone saving or pay off some credit card debt and start saving?

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Susan Broughton

I would like to know more about how to get your money upon retirement for best tax purpose and lose less money

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carol clark

how do i help and show my college daughter how important it is to start a savings account and how do i help her not get into it

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Alejandra Carreno

What is the best way to invest a large sum of inherited money?

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Stacy Bennett

What's the best way to save money for retirement?

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Kara Marks

My biggest question is how to earn the most on my money w/ limited risk?

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Joann

What is the best money advice to teach to kids?

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Sheila K.

When I start taking distributions from my retirement accounts, how can I best determine what annual percentage I should take?

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Guest

What should "regular" people do to invest for the future; people without a lot of money and no way of obtaining a lot of money? I'm talking about people who earn 50 thousand per year or less.
Thank You.

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Karen

What's the best way to begin investing in the stock market? The whole thing is confusing, but we'd like to invest outside of our 401(k).

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Kelli

My top question is how do I get started in investing when I don't have much money to invest nor do I know much about the stock market.

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Dana

How do I refinance private student loans? Can you refinance them? It seems like I only see offers that involve federal student loans.

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Steph

My number one financial question is 401k v ira - what to put more into

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J. Pario

Where are all these people who live off of their investments investing their money?

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Banana Derpington

My biggest question is what is the best way to save for college, retirement, being laid off etc.

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Wendy Starnes

My question is, why is it so hard to save money?

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Wendy Starnes

My question is why is it so hard to save money?

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Pat S

How can you prepare for retirement when you don't earn enough to save money?

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Maura

Is buying a house with a 30 year mortgage at the age of 64 and 70 a wise investment or staying in a house which has been paid for for 15 years but isn't suitable for an aging couple?

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Bela

How does a health savings account work, and does the holder have access to the money for whatever he chooses? What is the best way to self-pay for health care while thoroughly rejecting the purchase of health insurance?

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Revanche

My employer doesn't offer any retirement plan. I've been investing the maximum in my annual IRA, we max out my husband's 401(k), and I invest in a portfolio of dividend funds as well as investment real estate but I feel like I should be doing more investing. What other vehicles should I add to our portfolio?

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Shayna Brookman

How are you supposed to save money when you live pay check to pay check?

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Christy Caldwell (@cychochris)

How do I save or put away a little so I can start investing when I am barely surviving day to day?

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gayle

My question is what is the best way to improve your credit rating?Is it really by getting a credit card(getting in debt) ?

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Sarah Ochocki

Should I get a credit card? I hate the idea of being in any debt, but I also need to build credit.

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Robin

What percentage of your monthly income should you put in your company's 401K?

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april

My top question is how can I get my husband on board with becoming debt free, that making some short term sacrifices will have great long term results?

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Sherrie K.

Which factors should I use to determine if I should retire at age 62, age 65 or age 70?

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Adriane

How to squeeze the most money from selling my home

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Guest

Is there a certain percentage of your income that should be placed into an emergency fund each week? Should emergency fund dollars be included in a budget? Is there a certain dollar amount that should be maintained at all times?

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carrie hutson

I am always looking for a great side-hustle!!!! What are the best ideas?? Winning that 150.00 gift card would be a great start right?!?!

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Tiffany

I have a couple mutual funds, IRA, etc. At 33, I have been pondering wanting to just buy some standard stocks on my own. Or would it be more beneficial to go with a fund that specializes in stocks? Thank you.

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Kimberly Kihega

If we have a tight budget, what would be the best way to save for my kids' college educations?

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Stephanie L.

How do we start saving each money when there's not a penny left over to save? We've cut down everything to the bare bone bills wise, and we're still barely making it. Living paycheck to paycheck here.

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Rich

I'm saving for retirement in a Roth IRA but I also would like to learn more on investing in the stock market.

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BRB

Do tips need to be reported to the federal government as income?

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Sweetmatcha

I have some money saved up in 529 and ira but when my kids go to college, can I or how do I borrow from the fund to help cover costs? Would it be ok to borrow from it?

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Kristen Vines

My number one question would be, "What's the best way for my husband & I to save to ensure we have money for retirement as small business owners?"

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Happy Love

What is the best account for saving for my children's college educations.

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Guest

Hi - I have a 529 plan fior my daughter, who is 7. How can I figure out if I will have enough in there when it's time for her to go to college? Thanks.

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Jay

What are the best mutual funds with the lowest fees?

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Jay

What are the best mutual funds with the lowest fees?

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Hilary

When should you start saving for retirement?

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Eileen Osborne

My top personal finance question relates to mortgage types obtainable to finance real estate purchases. Are there differing rates for 1st homes, vacation (2nd homes), and for properties intended for use as investments/rentals for income? How are the rates different for each type if they are, and do they vary by state? Thank you.

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Holly Lawson

My top question is when you live paycheck to paycheck, what is the first step to trying to save for an emergency fund?

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Betty C

How can I save when I can barely pay my monthly expenses?

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Dani H

How can I build up my savings when I'm on a fixed retirement income? I can't take too big of a risk.

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Guest

My top questions is about my retirement accounts - what's the most ethical way to save for retirement? I want to make sure my money is not being invested into corporations that are hurting rather than helping the disadvantaged and the environment.

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reanna

What's the best way to save for vacation?

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Janine h

How much should I have saved by age 40?

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Allyson becker

With interest rates so low at the current time, what is the best way to gather interest on my money? What happens when interest rates go into the negative?

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Lynne T

My top question is "how can I be sure I'm financially able to retire?"

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Chrissy

My current question is: "Is it worth it in the long run to my career for me to keep working now even though I'm almost working for free because of how much childcare costs or would I be better off taking some time off with my child and then hoping I can jump back into the work force when she goes back to school?" Short term our budget can handle the hit but I'm afraid I'm not fully considering the long term ramifications.

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Pam C.

What is the best way to "safely" make money on your savings? It seems wrong that you have to risk the money you earned through a life of working just to make some interest or dividends. Is there a less risky way to make more than 1% on your money?

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Angie

I have some savings so am wondering if I should put all of that towards paying off student loans (it wouldn't cover the full amount but a decent chunk) or keep some as a net and only fully pay off the higher interest loans, then take care of the others over time.

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Laurajj

My biggest personal finance questions are on how to invest in the stock market. I have so much to learn, but would love to start. Where is the best way to begin on a starter level with minimum risk while learning?

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MichelleS

Trick question, what is the safest way to invest money? There may be no "Safe" way, but what is the right way.