Answers to Your Questions About Credit, Retirement, College

From the Editor

Answers to Your Questions About Credit, Retirement, College

You don't have to be the editor's daughter to get personalized financial advice from Kiplinger's.

Last month I wrote that research shows the best time to provide financial education is when people actually need the information. Sure enough, my daughter recently came to me with a credit-related question. Claire, 26, had checked her free credit report (at, as she routinely does—"I like to know what's going on," she says—and paid extra to get her credit score. Even though her record was squeaky-clean, her score was lower than she thought it should be. Why was that? she wondered.

I immediately relayed Claire's question to Kim Lankford, who writes our Ask Kim column. Kim did a little digging and found out that Claire had probably been given a score compiled by the credit bureau whose report she'd checked. When Claire requested her FICO score, which is the most common score and is figured on a different scale, it was considerably higher, putting her in the "very good" category. Her only drawback is that her credit history isn't very long. So, in addition to finding out that credit scores differ, Claire says she feels better knowing that "as long as I keep paying off my student loans, my score should continue to rise."

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Lessons learned. And you don't have to be the editor's daughter to get personalized financial advice from Kiplinger's. It's all in a day's work for our staff members. Kim alone receives 450 to 600 questions per month on a range of personal-finance topics. We can't answer them all in our magazine and the two columns Kim writes each week for But with input from the entire staff she responds to those that are the most common and timely.

With the start of the academic year, for example, she's getting lots of queries about how to take advantage of tax breaks for college expenses and which sources of money to tap first when paying the bills. (For an in-depth look at college-savings strategies, see Smart Ways to Save for College).


One-on-one. Social media is another way we get you information when you need it. We post pertinent stories on our Facebook page, and our thousands of Facebook fans get into lively exchanges among themselves. In fact, it was questions from Facebook friends about how to play catch-up with retirement savings when you get a late start or suffer a setback that helped inspire this month's cover story. If you have an idea for a topic you'd like us to write about, let us know at Or contact me directly at my new Facebook page.

And in October we're offering the ultimate in one-on-one financial advice. We're partnering with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the Financial Planning Association, the Foundation for Financial Planning and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to sponsor free financial workshops in 31 cities around the country, from Atlanta to Indianapolis to San Diego. Certified financial planners will volunteer their time and expertise to provide free, personalized counseling and presentations on personal-finance topics ranging from budgeting and investing to taxes and retirement.

Financial Planning Days is a nationwide initiative to provide financial education at no cost. And since you ask the questions, you can get information that's targeted to your needs. Register online at

It's all in the spirit in which Kim approaches her job: "I love hearing from our readers." So do we all.

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