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Michelle Singletary


There are many reasons why I agreed to marry my husband, but one thing that clinched it for me was his answer to a question I asked early in our courtship."Where do you see yourself when you retire?" I wondered."I see myself in a rocking chair on a porch in a warm location watching our grandchildren playing in the backyard," he said.I swooned.I've been looking forwar…

I've set up the tax table.Every year, my husband and I pull out a white folding table to begin organizing our tax documents that will eventually be handed over to our tax preparer. We put it up early this year, instead of waiting until the end of March when we're scrambling madly. This time, we're determined we won't be among the millions of procrastinators who w…

If you look carefully and you probably haven't -- at the fine print in your credit card agreement or in many of the consumer contracts you sign, you'll likely find a provision that says if you have a dispute and want your day in court, you're out of luck. Instead, you are forced to go to binding arbitration.Businesses love arbitration. Companies argue that it keeps…

A report released by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute notes what could be some really good news: The health care reform signed into law by President Obama, which has been criticized by Republicans and challenged in court, appears to be improving the health insurance coverage of young adults.The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires …

I got into just one fight while in elementary school.A bully was hitting my younger brother, Mitchell. The attacker was considerably larger than my brother, who was cowering on the ground trying to block the punches with his arms.I was skinny and bookish and would cry if you looked at me hard. But I got between that boy and my brother and just started swinging. I f…

I often hear people say they can't stomach investing anymore. And I understand.They're scared about losing their money. But in my experience, contributing to the poor returns some investors receive are the bad decisions they made because they panicked, because they were greedy or because they didn't investigate their investment choice."I am more convinced than ever…

Most of us have made promises to do something better. My home office is still cluttered after I promised as one of my 2011 New Year's resolutions -- to keep it tidy. It was clean for a while. It's a mess again.But this is the year, right? This year, I'm going to keep my office uncluttered. Or maybe 2012 is the year you're going to take that step to get rid of your de…

Let's look back at 2011 and reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to personal finance.One of the good things was the opening of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will promote financial education and write federal rules to combat unfair, deceptive and abusive financial practices and products.The bureau, despite not having a director, …

As the holiday season begins to wind down, don't forget those caring for an elderly relative or friend.A lot of them are making enormous sacrifices. About one in six people who have a full-time or part-time job say they have to care for an elderly or disabled family member, relative or friend, according to Gallup research sponsored by Pfizer and ReACT (or Respect…

Is it possible to create a simple credit card agreement, one that doesn't give you a migraine as you struggle to understand the terms and conditions that, if violated, could put you into decades of debt?I have my doubts. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is giving it a try. The agency has released a prototype of a simplified agreement as part of its "K…

Consumers are pulling back on their debt except in one noticeable, troubling area.The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that overall consumer debt dropped about $60 billion to $11.66 trillion in the third quarter of 2011. But as consumers cut their mortgage and credit card debt, they apparently were loading up on student loans.Really loading up. The New York Fe…

My son has had a case of cellphone envy for several years now.To hear him tell it, he's the last kid in his eighth-grade class who doesn't have a phone. When his father upgraded his 3G iPhone to the 4S version, my son had dreams of getting a smartphone hand-me-down.Not yet.My husband and I aren't in a hurry to give our son a cellphone for a number of reasons, inclu…

If I had a dollar for every college student who didn't know what their student loan payments would be after they graduated, I wouldn't have to spend a single penny of the money I've saved to send my children to college.I've long been disturbed by the number of students and families who only home in on how much they've borrowed for school once the payments come du…

A new rule from the Department of Labor could help millions of workers make better choices on how to invest in their workplace retirement plans.I had the opportunity recently, as part of a financial literacy ministry I direct at my church, to see and hear how many people allocate the money they put in their 401(k)s or other plans. And this made me very concerned …

Your social media account on Twitter or Facebook may have connected you to a forgotten classmate or sweetheart, but it can also lead you straight into the hands of a predator.All this Internet openness has made it much easier for people to be preyed upon by con artists who specialize in affinity fraud, using someone's connection to certain groups to gain their trus…