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Family Matters: Making personal finance fun

Published: Monday, Nov. 25 2013 9:50 a.m. MST

Singletary, continuing her theme against debt, worries that Jane isn't worried enough.

"I'm in no rush," Jane says.

Singletary pushes back.

"Take that (debt) to the curb as soon as possible," she says. "Studies show young people are delaying owning a home to much later because of the debt they have. They don't get married or do a lot of things until they are in their 30s or 40s because of the debt they have. … I want you to make that debt feel like there is a stone on your back. Can you feel it? … I need her to start saving for her retirement."

Barajas agrees, but recommends a sense of balance. "You need to balance this concept of 'can I enjoy life?' and 'can I invest in myself and my career?'"

It is a balance between sacrificing for the future and enjoying life in the present, he says.

"Use money for its highest and best purpose," Barajas says.

Financial contentment

Other audience members come up with their questions about losing money on rental properties, about how much money is enough money for retirement (it depends), about divorce, about not making a big enough salary to retire comfortably.

Generally, although audience members have worries, from the advice given by the experts, they are doing pretty well with what they have already. NPR listeners that go to an event about personal finances are not, apparently, the worst people in America at finances.

Singletary tells people to write down a word: contentment.

"I think that if you are content with your life, some of that worry will go away," she says. "We can't predict everything, so be content with what you have. … Just take a step back, take a breath and be grateful for what you have. … Even if you don't have enough for retirement, even if you have student loan debt, even if you are not going to pay off your house by the time you retire, you still have far more than the vast majority of people on this world. So if you take a step back and be content, some of that worry will go away and you'll be OK."

After the event, Barrett talks with Singletary about how best to save for his grandbaby's college education. Because the growth is not taxed, she recommends looking into the 529 college education plans (such as the Utah Educational Savings Plan).

Barrett trusts the advice.

The crowd leaves the museum in a pretty good mood, followed by the NPR hosts and financial experts. Only the dinosaurs remain in the dark.

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

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