Dear Mary: My sisters and I have $10,000 we would like to invest to cover our mother's funeral expenses when they occur. She does not have life insurance or any savings. She is 62 and living on disability at this time. What would be the best investment strategy for us? She is not currently ill. Thank you. -- Bonita W., South Dakota
Dear Bonita: This is money that needs to be kept in a safe place where it is fairly liquid (so you can have access to it within just a few days) with enough growth or interest to at least stay ahead of inflation. I believe that if I were you, I'd go the ultra-cautious route and place your mother's money in an online savings account such as Ally Bank (ally.com). You will earn precious little interest, but there are no fees or minimum deposit requirements. You're not going to double your money at that rate, but you won't have to worry or squabble amongst yourselves over lost funds.
Alternatively, you may want to look into prepaying her final arrangements. There are great benefits to doing this now while she is young and in good health. She can participate in making the decisions. And it will be much easier for you and your sisters as well, without the emotions and sense of urgency should you wait until the end to make those final decisions. Speak with the people at a local funeral home in your area to learn more.
Dear Mary: My daughter is a non-traditional student attending weekend college and living independently by working two jobs. Do you know of good resources for scholarships and low-interest loans? She doesn't qualify for much assistance through Federal Financial Aid. -- Adella W., Minnesota
Dear Adella: There are literally thousands of merit-based scholarships available for students -- many of them for adults like your daughter who are returning to college. Some are academic-based, others have nothing to do with one's GPA. She will find excellent scholarship search engines at scholarshipcoach.com, fastweb.com and collegeanswer.com. And make sure she checks with her employers to see if either has a tuition reimbursement plan.
Dear Mary: After reviewing my credit report, the only thing that is incorrect is that they have an address listed for me in Dallas. I have never lived in Dallas. Is this worth the hassle of trying to correct? -- Susan A., Oklahoma
Dear Susan: It is very important that your address is correct on your credit report. This incorrect information on your report could well be a clue that someone has applied for credit using your Social Security number. Follow the instructions that came with your credit report to get it corrected. Follow up in a few months to make sure it has been corrected.
Dear Mary: I just wanted to let you know how you have changed my and my family's life. I started reading your books last summer, created our Rapid Debt-Repayment plan and Freedom Account. As of this month, our RDRP is paid in full and the only debt we have is our home mortgage and a car loan. I truly feel that a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders! Your methods gave me the courage to put it all in place. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. -- Mary B., Wisconsin
Dear Mary B.: I am just thrilled to hear of your progress. This is great news. Thanks so much for letting me know so I can share your excitement.
Mary invites questions at email@example.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.