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This is the ninth day in our 31-Day Money Challenge. Over 31 days we’ll publish 31 podcasts, each designed to help you move closer to financial freedom. Yesterday we looked at my 10 favorite money management tools. In today’s podcast, I answer some questions sent in by readers.

Sponsors: The 31-Day Money Podcast is sponsored by Betterment and Personal CapitalBetterment and Personal Capital are two tools I use to make investing easier, less expensive, and more effective.

Before we get to the questions, remember that you can send in your questions or comments. You can email me at dr [at] doughroller [dot] net. Eve better, you can leave a voice mail message for me at Speakpipe.

Below are the questions I addressed on today’s podcast. I also include the tools and resources mentioned in the podcast below each question. For my answers, just listen to the podcast.

Q (Nancy): “I will be 67 next week and am thinking of retiring in April. Would it be better to use my 401(k) until I reach 68 to take my Social Security or take my Social Security immediately when I retire? Or, would it be better to use personal savings and not touch either until I turn 68?

I would receive around $30,000 a year if I wait until 68 before taking Social Security. If I wait until 70 would receive approximately $34,000 a year, but after almost 50 years of working, I’m tired of working”

Q (Julie): “How do debit cards figure into the utilization rate? Or do they?”

Q (Shelby): “I am 18 and I have zero credit. My mom told me that I could get a pre paid credit card to build my credit since I hate credit cards because they are a disaster waiting to happen. I want to know how I can build up my credit without getting a real credit card. Is there a way? If itsre paid card holder then please give me all the details of it and the name. Thank you.”

Q: I own a timeshare I can no longer make payments on it and I need to know how to release it without losing money.

Q (Brian): “One other thing that I would find very helpful, if it exists, would be a list of credit cards that offer 0% interest and 0 balance transfer fee for any period of time…even just 6 to 9 months would be helpful.”

Q (David): “My 401k is maxed out for the year at 17,500 + 5,500. Can I also contribute a total of 6,500 to a conventional IRA with after-tax money? I’m over 50.”

Day 10: Credit Scores 101

Author Bio

Total Articles: 1120
Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Article comments

Richard says:

Hi Rob,

I recently stumbled onto your blog while reading another personal finance blog, and want to say that after listening to your podcasts in the 31 day money challenge, I would like to say I’m hooked. While I’m new to investment as a whole, I feel that the information shared in the podcasts was very easy to understand, very informative and insightful to a newbie like me. I still have a long ways to go, but I believe that as I continue to listen, I will learn a lot and hopefully improve the way I look at the different investment vehicles that are available to me.

One question I have is for a new investor like me, what would be a reasonable expense ratio when buying mutual funds. I’m thinking about investing in my 401 K at work and would like to evaluate the available funds to ensure that I’m not signing up for funds that will costs me lots of money in fees. Is it okay for me to email you my available funds to see if you look through them and give me some direction?

Thank you for the work your doing in providing this very important service of educating the masses.


Rob Berger says:

Richard, appreciate your comment. Feel free to email me you options if you want, but please understand that I’m not an investment advisor. I can’t give you specific investment advice. For me, I want my total cost across all of my investments to be less than 25 basis points. I’m currently at 22. For my core funds (U.S. stocks and bonds, foreign stocks), I like to keep the cost below 15 basis points by using passively managed index funds. The costs for REITs, emerging markets, and commodity funds tend to be a bit higher. Hope that helps.

Chris says:


I listened to your podcasts and thought I would ask you a question. BTW what is your email? It is not on the site from I can find. Anyway, I am trying to help out my brother in law who has been running surveying crews for pipelines. He knows that this is just a temporary gig (IE will only do it for at most two more years because he wants to settle down so his kids can go to school). He will have a decent amount of money at the end of term between 70k and 100k. He won’t have any debt.

When he is done he doesn’t want a desk job and is trying to decide what to do with that money so that he can make a living. He is considering a Pizza franchise or real estate. Do you have any good resources for helping us/him make a decision? If we went the real estate (multi units) route what resources would be good? What would you do if you were 34 married with two kids and had 70-100k in capital? He has a bachelors degree and a great work ethic

Rob Berger says:

Chris, thanks for the question. Frankly, it’s difficult to give an “answer” to this type of question because so much of it depends on your brother-in-law’s skills, interest, ambition, and so on. For me, I invest my money in low-cost index funds, for the most part. It sounds like he wants to start a business. If it’s real estate, I’d recommend he check out the resources on biggerpockets.com. It’s the best real estate investing site and community, in my opinion. I can’t speak to a pizza business, although I’m generally not a fan of franchises.

Chris says:

Thanks for the advice!

Rosie says:

Thanks so much for the 31-Day Challenge! Every tip helps me to take a look at my own circumstance to see if I can create my own personal solutions.

Christie Gehman says:

I have recently paid all my credit card debit after a 4 year process. That is a huge accomplishment! However, I now have to catch up on my monthly bills. From following your podcasts, I believe my next step is a savings account- which I sent up as an automatic deposit. However, I have consistent overdrafts and have really tried everything to prevent this. Do you have any suggestions. This podcast series and information has been life changing.
Thank you.