I’m Tanza Loudenback, and I’ve written about personal finance for 4 years at Business Insider. I’m currently the editorial lead for Master your Money, our yearlong series that brings stories, advice, strategies, and inspiration to millennials (like myself) as we navigate financial ups and downs.

I also write Personal Finance Insider, our bimonthly email newsletter — sign up here!

I studied for 1.5 years to become a certified financial planner and I consume personal finance content (articles, blogs, books, podcasts) obsessively. Ask me anything about personal finance and I’ll do my best to enlighten you.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Explore our personal finance coverage here.

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EDIT: That's it for now ... thank you all for the thoughtful questions! If there's anything else you want answered about personal finance, email your questions to: yourmoney[at]businessinsider[dot]com

Comments: 69 • Responses: 13  • Date: 

spickett1713 karma

My spending has gone down significantly this year from not actively being able to travel and go out to restaurants and bars. Therefore, I've been throwing my extra cash blindly into a high yield savings account. What is your best advice to maintain a good savings routine when things transition back to normal post-COVID? I'm afraid I won't be putting as much money aside, and am afraid of falling off a good savings routine.

BusinessInsider14 karma

Great question! I bet a lot of people have found themselves in the same situation.

You're already on the right track by saving in a high-yield account. I know the interest rates aren't as good as they once were, but they're still higher than a traditional checking or savings.

Make it a more concrete habit by setting up auto-deposit through your payroll. For every paycheck that comes in, part will go directly into the savings account and you won't have to lift a finger. I recommend setting a higher amount since you're finding extra savings in your budget right now — you can always pull back when things get going again post-COVID. But by then you should have a very solid savings account!


rafatollah8 karma

What is your recommendation for someone who has no idea about the stock market or how to get started with investing?

BusinessInsider12 karma

First of all, I'm glad you're interested in investing! It's one of the most powerful tools for building wealth.

Get familiar with a few basic concepts (risk tolerance, asset allocation, diversification) before you dive in. Read online coverage from a reputable news organization or blog or crack open a book.

Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” has a great chapter on investing for beginners. He recommends (as I would) that you start by investing in a workplace retirement plan. See what your employer has to offer and go from there. -TL

BusinessInsider7 karma

Hello! I'm here and ready to talk money for the next hour. I'll be signing my responses -TL

BriannaLove696 karma

What books would you recommend reading?

BusinessInsider13 karma

Here's a helpful list to start you off https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/best-personal-finance-books

Some personal favorites off the top of my head:

  • "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" by Ramit Sethi
  • "The Geometry of Wealth" by Brian Portnoy
  • "Get a Financial Life" by Beth Kobliner
  • "Change Your Habits, Change Your Life" by Tom Corley
  • "Napkin Finance" by Tina Hay


Odd_Transportation126 karma

Is finance an art or science?

BusinessInsider5 karma

It's an artful science. There are formulas that are proven to build wealth (science), but there are behaviors, mindsets, and attitudes (art) that affect outcomes.


barbaloot20205 karma

I'm very newly engaged and have begun thinking about what I need to do to get my finances in order ahead of getting married. We currently bank separately, besides access what are the benefits of joint accounts? My credit history is muddied by a complicated situation with identity theft. Will marrying me hurt my partner's credit?

I would also love any general suggestions on how to prepare to combine finances!

BusinessInsider5 karma

Congrats on your engagement! The first thing you should do is get on the same page financially, outside the spreadsheet and bank accounts. Talk about your goals and expectations, share how much you make if you don't already, and discuss your relationship with money in general. Budgeting for the first time as a couple can get messy, but it'll be a lot smoother if you understand (and respect!) each other's values and goals.

When it comes to combining the cold, hard cash — it's a matter of preference. Some couples like the "what's mine is yours" set up and others like to maintain some independence with one joint account for household expenses and separate accounts for whatever else.

The good news is that you don't marry someone's credit. The only time your credit reports will be linked to one another is if/when you apply for a loan together, like a mortgage.

EDIT: The benefits of a joint account = higher insurance limits. You can get up to $500k insurance total vs. $250k in an individual account.


BLIND1193 karma

What do you think about bitcoin and crypto in general?

BusinessInsider8 karma

I stay away from speculative investments. I keep it simple with index funds because I'm happy with average returns :)


Robbyboy13 karma

I have a son going to college in two years is it too late to start a 529 plan for him or is there a better way to invest/save towards his college?

BusinessInsider3 karma

Thanks for the question!

It's not too late to start saving for college, and a 529 plan is one of the best options out there. You might want to also consider other options like a Roth IRA. There are different contribution limits and withdrawal rules that, depending on your financial situation, could make more sense.


[deleted]2 karma


BusinessInsider1 karma

Thanks for the question!

You're over halfway there with the debt payoff - kudos! The deciding factor here would be to compare interest rates. If you can secure another type of loan (a home equity line of credit or a personal loan) that has a lower interest rate than your credit card is charging, then you might want to consider that for the basement repairs and put the $9k toward CC debt. It sounds like you're still going to be in debt either way (for now), and you don't want to prolong the expensive debt. -TL

Downtown-Fun-5642 karma

Advice for recent college grad (Dec 2019)? Had a few engineering opportunities but didn’t fit into culture of industry very well. I have a bit of savings, what should some of my next steps be right now to ensure future financial success? I’m interested in going into business.

BusinessInsider4 karma

Congrats on your graduation! I'm sorry 2020 was your first year out of college, it was a tough one.

If you're getting job opportunities but aren't interested in or passionate about the work, that's understandable. I'm glad to hear you have savings to fall back on, but that won't last forever. Your first (or second or third) job doesn't have to be your dream job, but you have to start somewhere!


WaterFriendsIV2 karma

I have about $20,000 in a 403b. My financial advisor from the investment company says that I don't get dividends from the stocks to reinvest or earn from and that the value of my account only goes up as the value of the stocks go up.

Am I understanding that right? Is this a poor type of investment? Should I put this money somewhere else?

BusinessInsider3 karma

Good on you for saving in a workplace retirement plan! The tax benefits are good and you're building the habit of saving, which is invaluable.

Your financial advisor is probably a fiduciary, if they're working for the plan sponsor, so they should have your best interest in mind.

The dividends in your 403(b) plan will grow tax free along with the rest of your balance and only be taxable once you withdraw the money.

If you're worried whether it's the right investment for your specific objective (earning fixed income now vs. having a big nest egg in retirement, etc.), talk to your financial advisor.


you_are_temporary1 karma

Do you have any recommendations on saving up to purchase a home? Any secret pro-tips?

BusinessInsider3 karma

Thanks for the question!

Full disclosure: I'm not a homeowner (Los Angeles is a tough housing market). But I look at saving for a house like saving for any other big financial goal — consistent, automatic contributions to a savings account, plus any windfalls you get, add up.

But remember that there's more than a down payment to save up for. Factor in closing costs, maintenance costs, and mortgage insurance if you'll need it.

A colleague of mine recently bought her first house and spent more time, energy, and money than she expected (but it was worth it, she says). Here's how she saved: https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/steps-im-taking-to-save-to-buy-a-house-2020-6


tacoim1 karma

What would you recommend for someone in they're twenties to do to build wealth to say retire by mid 40s?

BusinessInsider5 karma

You'll need to invest a big chunk of your income to fully retire in two decades (or less). But you can only cut down spending so much and will probably have to increase your income at some point to really supercharge your savings/investing.

Here's an explainer on the different types of FIRE (financial independence/retire early) that might help guide you https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/what-is-fatfire-vs-leanfire-early-retirement-fire