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Ulrich: Why parents shouldn't help pay for daughter's wedding

April 28, 2011 at 8:43 AM ET

TODAY /

Carmen Wong Ulrich is a personal finance expert and author of "The Real Cost of Living" and "Generation Debt." She joined us for a live Web chat Wednesday morning after the show's Money 911 segment.

Here are two of her answers and a complete archive.

Question from Michelle: 

We're helping a son with his student loan debt and we have retirement funded. Now our daughter is planning to get married. We can only stretrch our paychecks so much. We have no personal debt and and don't want to put anything on credit. What do we tell our daughter?

Carmen's answer:

Michelle - Tell her that I paid for my own wedding out of my own savings!

You sound like you're in great financial shape and you do need to take care of yourself and your retirement before your kids' student loans and wedding.

It's tough love -- but they don't want to end up taking care of you, right?? That's what would happen if you jeopardize your retirement to take care of them now.

Good luck - they'll be OK and have many more years to pay off their debts and save for retirement.

Question from Kathryn:

Our house is worth $250,000, we owe $134,00 and have a 20-year mortgage at 4.375 percent. We're considering going to a 15-year mortgage. What's the cut off on the rate and amount we should be willing to pay at closing?

Carmen's answer:

Kathryn - You've got an amazing interest rate -- low low low! - and a 20-year mortgage is very conservative. Don't be in a rush to pay off this mortgage or put more money into it, which is what doing a 15 year would be.

The housing market is going nowhere for a while, and your interest rate is so low that you should let the bank take some of the risk of homeownership and put your money instead into solid, diversified IRAs and other retirement tools.

Your money will grow faster, better and serve you well over time, much more so than the return on a home. You'll be just fine!

Complete archive

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