Ask the Expert

MONEY's Walter Updegrave tackles your questions.

Market timing is a losing investing strategy

The major flaw in trying to time the market is that you not only have to make one correct call, but two: exit at the right time and get back in at the right time. What's more, you've got to do it again and again, as long as you invest. More

'Retiring in 7 years: Am I prepared?'

To assure you're making progress toward your expected retirement date -- and have a chance to make adjustments if you're not -- take the following retirement planning steps. More

'Do I really need 100% of my pre-retirement income?'

The percentage of pre-retirement income one needs to live well in retirement is difficult to predict. So it's important to think about how much you might spend and gauge whether your savings is on track. More

Convincing someone to save for retirement

Even if you fear the government will make decisions on taxes and other fiscal matters that will erode your 401(k), you should still put money away for retirement. More

Should I pay someone to manage my IRA?

As long as you do the research and develop an effective investing strategy, you should be perfectly capable of handling your IRA investments on your own. More

Pretirement: Keep the paycheck, live the lifestyle

"Pretirement" lets you reap some of the financial benefits of staying on the job longer while also enjoying some of the perks of retirement. More

Can you trust your financial adviser?

Anyone you work with has biases. To feel okay with the advice, ask the right questions. More

Worried about Europe: 'Should I cash out?'

Europe's woes have plenty of investors jittery, but cashing out of the market isn't the smartest strategy.  More

Why your hospital bill is so high

From IV bags to chest tubes, Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains why even basic medical equipment adds thousands to your medical bill. Play

'When should I dump an underperforming fund?'

It's difficult to figure out whether an underperforming fund is a dud or about to make a comeback. To help you figure out whether to sell or hold, ask yourself these six questions first.  More

'Should I use my 401(k) to pay off student loans?'

While it makes sense to want to pay off your student loan debt, there are several reasons why you're better off rolling your 401(k) funds into an IRA account.  More

'Does the 4% rule for retirement withdrawals make sense?'

No spending system can accommodate all the twists and turns you'll experience in retirement. So it's best to think of the 4% rule as a guideline, not a fail-safe strategy.  More

'Are money-market accounts and funds the same?'

Not by a long shot. A money-market fund is a mutual fund. It is not a bank account and doesn't qualify for FDIC insurance. More

'Should I have foreign funds in my 401(k)?'

Despite all of Europe's problems, a portion of your investments should be invested overseas. More

55 and scared: 'How do I protect my nest egg?'

With at least 10 more years before retirement and maybe another 30 years after, you can't afford to invest in only the most secure assets. More

'Should I invest my $10,000 windfall in stocks?'

Forget stocks, buy the market. After trading costs and other fees, the overwhelming majority of investors, including pros, trail market averages. More

'I have $1 million in 33 funds, is that too many?'

When it comes to mutual funds investing, more doesn't necessarily mean better.  More

'What's a realistic retirement age?'

Most people should figure on working to at least 65, but it pays to have a backup plan. More

'Is my high-fee, no-employer match 401(k) worth it?'

Payroll deductions and tax benefits may make it worthwhile to participate in your 401(k) but consider an IRA as well. More

'What should we do with a $100,000 windfall?'

An extra $100,000 can improve your retirement prospects, but it's not so much that you can afford to spend or invest unwisely. More

'How can I buy Facebook stock?'

After the initial burst of the IPO, you'll be able to buy Facebook shares through any brokerage. But the question is, should you? More

'How much should I spend on a family vacation?'

Americans spend between 5% and 7% of their income on vacations but that doesn't mean you should. More

'How much can I take out from my $300,000 IRA?'

Having enough money to last your entire retirement isn't just a matter of plugging in an amount to withdraw from your IRA each year. Adapting to changing conditions is just as important. More

'Will contributing the 401(k) max be enough?'

Attaining a secure retirement isn't just a matter of having a specific amount tucked away by a given age or saving a certain amount each year. There's several other factors to consider and other unknowns to prepare for.  More

'How much of my 401(k) should be in company stock?'

Zero. Don't engage in a strategy that increases risk without a boost in reward. More

'Do I really need my savings to last until I'm 100?'

Using an average life span to calculate how long your retirement savings needs to last can leave you elderly and short of money. More

Are REITs a safe investment for retirement?

REITs may offer a reliable source of income, but don't underestimate the risk of investing in one.  More

'I'm 39 with $1.2M saved, can I finally live it up?'

A diligent saver finally wants to spend a little. Money magazine's expert says that's OK -- but don't over do it.  More

Best moves for the new investor

Is fatherly advice to put $10,000 into gold the right way to begin investing? More

Can I write off my blog as a tax deduction?

If you're planning to slash your tax bill by taking big deductions for costs you attribute to your blog, be sure you can make a solid case for it before you file your taxes. More

Best bet for young investors: Roth, 401(k) or IRA?

For 20-something's who are already getting the company's 401(k) match this move is the next best step you can take.  More

Worried about U.S. politics? How to protect your portfolio

Prudent investors spread their money around with both U.S. and international shares. More

Inverse funds: Risky bet isn't for long-term investors

An inverse fund, one that moves in the opposite direction of the market, is not designed for long-term 401(k) retirement investing. More

Retiring at 65 with $1.5 million: Making it last

By choosing low-fee mutual funds and ETFs, you can substantially reduce the danger of running through your retirement savings too soon.  More

Forget dollar-cost averaging

When it comes to dollar-cost averaging, investing immediately for your selected asset allocation is more likely to generate a higher rate of return. More

Retirement planning: It's not just money

Many of us forget why we save and invest for retirement, it's to have a meaningful post-career retirement lifestyle. More

Getting a cool $1 million for retirement

4 steps to increasing the chances of having the money you'll need for retirement. More

Cash won't protect retirement savings

A 65-year-old who doesn't want to see his nest egg scrambled should focus on the longer term. More

Young investors: Keep calm and carry on

Faced with uncertain economic times, young investors should be wary of letting their emotions dictate their financial decisions. More

Investing: Should I rely on gut instinct?

Common sense combined with toned-down investment theory will help you allocate assets, pick investments and build a diversified portfolio. More

Am I saving too much for retirement?

If you can spare the cash, saving a healthy chunk of your salary for retirement can create a nice savings cushion should you face financial difficulties later on.  More

Will $600,000 last until I'm 95?

How long your retirement nest egg will last depends on how you invest, how much you take out each year and your tolerance for uncertainty. More

Are bonds only for scaredy cats?

Even if you're a committed long-term stock investor with retirement decades away, bonds deserve a place in your portfolio. More

Starting again at 50: Rebuilding savings

Recovering from a major financial setback, like long-term unemployment in your 40s or 50s, isn't easy but it can be done. It just requires careful financial planning and dedicated savings. More

Can I use my IRA to invest in property?

Using a self-directed IRA to invest in alternative assets may seem like a smart idea. But investor beware: unusual investments can carry unusual risks, including fraud. More

Jumping into stocks? Have a plan first

Thinking about putting your savings into stocks just because the market is on a tear? You're making a mistake. Here's what you need to consider before putting your money into the market.  More

Invest your IRA like a pro

There are plenty of mutual funds and ETFs that can help even the greenest investor grow their IRA like a pro. More

Emergency cash: Return vs. risk

Seeking higher yields by investing your emergency cash in Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, or TIPS, isn't worth the risk of not having ready access to your money. More

Investing for retirement when you're just starting out

From target date funds to creating your own investment mix, here are the best ways to invest for retirement when it's several decades away.  More

Will $4 million in retirement savings be enough?

It would seem as if saving $4 million should be enough to fund a comfy retirement 30 years from now. But don't automatically assume it will be sufficient. More

Retirement in 2012: Don't panic

Despite anticipated market swings in 2012, sticking with your investment strategy is the best way to grow your nest egg. Play

Don't outlive your savings: annuities

An immediate annuity or a deferred income annuity may protect you against the risk of outliving your assets. Just be sure to take the time to understand them before buy. More

Don't shortchange the later years

A retirement savings plan that assumes you'll spend less in your later years doesn't take into account the potential for unexpected health care and other costs.  More

Can I give my 401(k) firm the boot?

The SEC nailed the investment firm that manages our company's 401(k) for fraudulent practices not involving their 401 (k) group. Still I'd like to move my retirement account. More

How to start saving in your 20s

The younger you are, the less money you typically need to stash away for retirement. Money's Walter Updegrave provides a helpful online tool to help you calculate that elusive number. Play

Gold: No guaranteed returns

Investing in gold can't protect you from financial loss but it's a good strategy as part of a diversified portfolio. More

How to save more cash

It would be nice if there was some way to painlessly trick you into saving more money. But, let's be real. We all know saving boils down to one thing: Living on less than what you earn.  More

Is a pension a stand-in for bonds?

The security of a pension and Social Security may not eliminate the need for bonds to diversify your retirement portfolio. More

Retirement investing: catching up

Way behind on saving for your retirement? Some suggestions on how to save, invest and work longer to meet your retirement goals. More

Bonds 'suck.' Should you invest in stocks?

Even when bond yields are down, they are still a safer bet, especially if you are retired. Play

Baby on the way? How to financially prepare

Starting a college fund for your newborn may not be the best investment. Money's Walter Updegrave says get your own finances in order first. Play

Allocating assets in a see-saw market

Money's Walter Updegrave says that investing on the whims of a volatile market is not wise. Base it on when you'll need the money you're stashing away. Play

Bonds 'suck.' Should you invest in stocks?

Even when bond yields are down, they are still a safer bet, especially if you are retired. Play

Retirement: What's your magic number?

Money magazine's Walter Updegrave says that income, not assets, is the best way to track progress towards a secure retirement. Play

How to manage your money after graduation

Find out how to put yourself in a great financial position after you take your first job. Play

The best way to save for retirement?

Stashing as much cash as you can in tax-advantaged plans and utilizing catch up plans can keep you on track for retirement. Play

How much gold should you own?

Money Magazine's Walter Updegrave advises that gold can be a safe investment in volatile economic times, but it should be a small part of your overall portfolio. Play

Know your net worth

Money magazine's Walter Updegrave says adding up your assets is an easy and essential step to sound financial health. Play

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About This Author
Walter Updegrave
Walter Updegrave

Walter Updegrave, the financial expert behind "Ask the Expert," is a senior editor at MONEY. He's won a number of journalism awards and appeared on radio and television, including "Oprah," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Nightline" and "CBS This Morning." His books include "We're Not in Kansas Anymore: How to Retire Rich in a Totally Changed World" and "Investing for the Financially Challenged." A Philadelphia native, he holds a BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.


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