Pay Dirt is Slate’s money advice column. I have a question? Send to Athena and Elizabeth here. (Anonymous!)
Mr. Pay Dart
My husband and I are at odds over an inheritance from my late aunt. She split the money between my mother and me. Her mother insists on donating the entire college fund for her daughter. I have her two teenage stepsons. Nowhere near the same amount they saved. My husband and I donated to their college fund, but her mother and her very large extended family do not.
I want to use that money for emergency funds. Our house is old and in need of a new roof and foundation repairs soon. I have to think about retirement. My husband insists I should love her stepsons as much as her daughters and that they deserve an education without drowning in college loans.This is not fair I think. My stepson and I have a civil relationship, but not intimate. And my stepsons haven’t even met her aunt for the love of God.
I understand that college costs are skyrocketing, but you also have to think about community colleges, scholarships, and other extended families. part of me is bitter If I give them money for school, will they finally be allowed to have an opinion? As a stepmother, I’ve always been told to back off. It wasn’t my place to give an opinion about.I need help here.
Despite being a stepmother, it is not your responsibility to ensure a debt-free graduation by using an inheritance from someone his children have never met and probably never knew existed. It is inappropriate for your husband to expect you to use this money to pay for his college education. .
First, your daughter’s college fund is a gift from her grandmother, not you.Your mother is choosing to use her inheritance as she pleases and it is to the granddaughter she has a relationship with. , it’s not like you’re entrusting your entire fortune to your daughter. you And you want to spend this money on your home.
Speaking of parents, their relationship with their son-in-law may be polite, but it also sounds non-existent because the husband and mother set the boundaries. But I can imagine how you would feel if you were repeatedly reminded that these were not your children and told that you did not love them more than your daughter unless you gave up your inheritance for the sake of education. No, but you have already contributed to their college education. Your husband should be looking for other avenues to help his children go to college along the lines of the options you mentioned.
With all this in mind, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to keep all of your inheritance and not put it toward his children’s education. It’s a good idea to set boundaries regarding the situation. A counselor can help make sure both of you are heard and suggest steps to move forward from this disagreement. Good luck.
Mr. Pay Dart
I have about $9,000 in debt on 3 credit cards and have been trying to pay it off for years. A close friend of 20 years recently offered me an unconditional gift of money to pay off a debt. I accepted her generous offer. Now that you have the funds to fully pay these off, what’s the best way to do it for the benefit of your credit score? I never did. My current credit score is 720, but I’d like to get as close to 800 as possible.
— good question
dear good question,
This is definitely a good thing and incredibly kind to your friends.There are 5 factors to having a good credit score. And FICO, one of the most well-known companies in credit scores, measures each factor such as payment history (35%), amount currently owed (30%), and length of credit history (15%) in different ways. to weight the score. , credit mix (10%), and new credit (10%).
Paying off your credit card not only eliminates your debt, but it also reduces your credit utilization, the amount you owe compared to the amount of credit available.For example, you currently have $9,000 in credit card debt. , the interest rate is 90% if the available credit limit is only $10,000. High utilization appears to be risky and results in a lower credit score. So please pay off that debt as soon as possible.
Continue to practice good credit management even after paying off your debt. Think about how you got into this debt and learn from it. Full monthly payment by credit card. If you go into debt again, make sure your payments are always on time and your occupancy rate is always below 30%. It may also be tempting to close all your credit cards so you don’t risk being tempted again, but don’t. Closing your account will reduce your available credit limit, credit mix, and credit history length. All of these are key to getting the dream 800.
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Mr. Pay Dart
My partner and I live in a sub-market rental in a very expensive city. We love where we live and have a great relationship with our landlord, but dream of having more space. I considered buying a home early in the pandemic, but it was too competitive. Now that the market has calmed down a bit, anything we like in our city is well over our budget. But I need to know if that’s realistic or if there are pitfalls I haven’t considered.
I would like to use the money I saved as a down payment to buy a vacation home about two hours away. Our apartment is affordable, so I think we can swing both the rent and mortgage (but it will be tight). You can have an apartment nearby and spend as much time as you want there. Instead of trying to make money right out of the house, view the extra expense as a long-term investment. We grew up poor, but the only reason we have savings is because we lived in a small cheap apartment for a very long time. So I don’t know anyone who bought the villa. Can you tell me if this plan sounds wild?
—Can your first home be your second home?
Dear First Home, Second Home,
Your plan doesn’t sound wild. Sounds like someone trying to do something about our current market. But I think the only way I can afford to buy a house is to give up my rent-controlled apartment.
You didn’t state your actual income and expenses, but you said you didn’t have the money to maintain both assets unless they were “tight.” Are you factoring in the hidden costs of owning a home beyond your mortgage payments? Not only do you have to consider property taxes and homeowners insurance, but you also have to pay for maintenance issues as soon as they arise. You have to be prepared because you have to deal with it. Letting go of your apartment can free up the cash you need within your budget to become a comfortable homeowner. More space (along with homeownership responsibilities) or being in a place you love. Have you considered paying a bigger rent if you want to stay in the city?
As always, I always want to stress that you don’t need to buy a home if the timing isn’t right. There is a difference between seeing yourself in this new place and actually living there. I know you love your city right now, but you don’t love your current apartment. If possible, budget for a longer stay with Airbnb and feel like a local in your new area. please live Check out new sites, eat at local restaurants, and find fun things to do like farmers markets. After spending some time there, you might be convinced to go all home and make the city your vacation destination instead.
Mr. Pay Dart
Ever since I started working, I have basically been deeply dissatisfied with my job. I like my co-workers and the benefits are great, but the job is just… nice. I work as hard as I can, but I don’t care what industry I’m in, and I don’t want to climb the ladder in my current role. I have done a lot of soul searching and volunteer work to find and pursue a career field that genuinely interests me. I have been accepted into an academic program to prepare me for that field. . I am also planning a drastic career change.
The only problem is that my program hasn’t started for another year and a half. My current plan is to stay in my current job and save money while continuing to gain professional and volunteer experience. I’m not interested in staying in my current industry for long, but I don’t want to change jobs right now because I like the pay and benefits, my co-workers, and I’m not miserable at all. How will you make the most of the next year and a half? For the time being I’ll stay in my current role, but there must be a way to make that time more valuable.
–Living on the frontier
Dear People in Limbo,
I love how you are taking advantage of your situation and making the most of it instead of staring at your calendar. See if there are any tasks or opportunities that can help you prepare. For example, before becoming a full-time writer, I asked my former employer for tasks related to my technology. Not only did I edit a large number of essays written by students, but I also helped write grants for youth programs. To do.
Ask your employer if there are ongoing education classes available for professional development. Many employers outsource HR-related tasks to companies such as his ADP, which offer numerous trainings in various areas such as conflict resolution and leadership. And take advantage of your favorite perks. Be sure to see your doctor annually to address any lingering medical problems or concerns. Book a dental check-up to avoid cavities. And if you need help managing a chronic health condition, plan now before you move.
I’m getting married in a few weeks. Most importantly, I’m proud to be a punchy roll bride who knows I’m married to the best man in the world. is his ex (they dated for three years when he was in college over a decade ago) and he still relentlessly calls him her best friend (what he cares about is I know, but I don’t know the level of friendship he feels) her, and his loyalty is my favorite thing about him). She decided last minute to travel to attend and now needs to hold hands every step of the way.