TODAY | December 14, 2011
>> morning we've got jean chatzky, the author of money 911. david backe, author of "debt free for life." and sharon epperson , personal finance correspondent for nbc and cnbc.com. good morning.
>> good morning, al.
>> we go right to skype with y von skyping from santa barbara , california. good morning, yvonne.
>> how are you?
>> good. what's your question?
>> good morning. i'm 55 years old, and about a year-and-a-half ago, i was able to take advantage of an early retirement offer. i haven't started drawing my pension, but i'm thinking about starting. so i received some estimates, giving me an idea of how much i could expect in terms of a monthly annuity, based on the age at which i begin. but what are the options given is to take my pension benefits as a partial lump sum payment with a diminished monthly annuity. so i have a couple questions. one of which is, are there any consequences to beginning my -- to collect my pension benefits now, as opposed to waiting the ten years until i'm 65? and secondly, what are the advantages or disadvantages of taking that partial lump sum payment?
>> okay, jean?
>> okay. so the consequences of taking the money sooner rather than later just the way it works with social security , is that if you wait, you get a larger payment later on. and that's because the calculations figure, if you take it when you're older, you'll live fewer years, the money will last a longer period of time. the lump sum is a different story. if you take a lump sum , the biggest worry is that something will happen with that money. you will not manage it properly. and for that reason, it won't last as long as you live. so if you need some money now and you choose to go the lump sum route, talk to a financial adviser , make a plan, make sure you know how that money is invested and that you're doing it in a way so you can be sure you're not with drawing too much too early.
>> thank you, yvonne. now we go to twitter. this one sent in by mark reads, i received a $15,000 a year raise, raised my 401(k) contributions 10%. what's another investment?
>> i love it. this is one of those questions, al, where mark, if you take that increase in pay, your raise, and you don't spend it -- most get a raise and increase their lifestyle. if you don't spend the extra money, live like you never got the raise and save that money, it will change your entire financial future and probably make you a millionaire by the time you retire. here's what i would do, i would take that raise, a third of it, and throw it into the 401(k) plan. you said on twitter you're putting 12% into your 401(k) plan. i would up it to 15% if your 401(k) plan let's you up it more, i would up it to 17%. then i would take what's left, and you're going to have about another $10,000 left. i would put half in into a bucket for emergency purposes. we always talk about that. get your emergency savings up and take the other half -- other $5,000 and put that into a savings account for a down payment for a home, assuming you haven't bought one. so i would start saving to buy a home. those three buckets, don't touch the money and you will have a sound financial future . and most importantly, don't put that money into a checking account .
>> all right. now --
>> yeah. let's go to the phones, we have mark from florida. mark, good morning.
>> good morning, al. how are you today?
>> good. i like that voice. digging your voice, mark. what's your question?
>> well, we are presently current on our mortgage. however, to stay current, we will have to start using our retirement funds. we were told that we now qualify for the hamp program, but need to stop paying our mortgage to be considered. our question is, what will happen to our excellent credit score , which is over 800 ask associated credit rating , which is an a-plus?
>> wow. well, you definitely don't want to stop paying your mortgage, because you won't have the excellent credit rating any longer. and, of course, you want to get into this hatch program, the home affordable modification program, but you don't have to be did he lynn equipment on your mortgage to qualify. the requirement is you show financial hardship. and what that generally means, your mortgage payment is 31% or more of your income. if that is, in fact, the case, then you may qualify for this modification program. now, some lenders have their own modification programs, and they have other requirements, which is why the lender may have told you this. what you want to do, though, think about whether this modification program really works for you. we know that refinancing with mortgage rates now at record lows, that may be a better deal, because if you go to the federal program , you try to modify, and it takes often three, nine months, you get the reduced payment and at the ends of the trial period you don't actually get it, then you have to make those payments to be current on your mortgage. you still may face foreclosure. this is something you really want to be careful about. and one of the reasons why i think a refinancing may be a better deal for you right now than trying to do the modification.
>> good advice. jean chatzky, david backe and sharon epperson , thanks so much. coming up next, understanding the risks and warning