Should I consolidate my debt?
A caller with student loans wants to consolidate her debt, but Jean says she should wait until June because that's when student loan interest rates annually reset. "Then, you have a month to decide if you want to consolidate before the rates changes or after the rate changes," she says. "We think because we've had interest rates reductions this year that rates on student loans will fall and you will have an opportunity to consolidate them at a lower rate than you would right now."
What should I do with money I've inherited?
A mother of a 10- and 15-year-old just inherited more than $150,000 from a deceased relative. She wants to put the money aside for her children's upcoming college educations, but she is nervous about investing in the volatile stock market. Jean says she should shelter some of the money from taxes in 529 college savings plans for each of the children and then manage the rest of the money very conservatively in money markets and some bond funds. "Anytime you're dealing with a shorter-term time horizon, my perspective has always been that the money doesn't belong in [the stock market]," she says. "There are other places where you can get 3 or 4, 5 percent on the money and know you are not going to lose it."
How should I invest my tax refund?
As tax season draws near, many callers with large tax returns want to know the best place to invest their refund. If you are getting a very large refund, Jean says you may want to change the amount you are withholding for taxes every payday so you have a larger take-home paycheck. If you have credit card debt, Jean says you should put at least half of your tax return toward that and the rest in a savings account.