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Cheapskate Answers to Your Money Questions

When you write about personal finance for a living, lots of folks ask for your advice about their own money issues and problems. That places me in a difficult position because, while I’d like to help, in many cases there are just too many variables when it comes to offering good financial advice to people I barely know. And then there’s the “How dare you!” factor. That’s especially common when you primarily give advice about the spending side of people’s finances, like I do.

How dare you tell me I shouldn’t buy a new Lexus, and pay off my credit card debt instead? I have a reputation to uphold!”

How dare you tell me that my kid should live at home and go to the local community college for two years, rather than the out-of-state school she wants to go to? It doesn’t matter that I never set up a college fund for her, because student loans are easy to get!”

How dare you tell me I should cancel our cable service, even though we’re living paycheck to paycheck? What are we going to do for entertainment?”

>> 10 Consumer Spending Regrets

You get the idea. Apparently, everyone wants to know how to reduce their spending without, well, spending less.

Yet the frantic questions keep coming, which is no surprise given the results of a new survey I just stumbled across. The survey, conducted by the personal finance website, examined people’s greatest fears in life and found that more people are scared of living paycheck to paycheck, falling into debt or becoming homeless because of financial ruin than are afraid of dying! When asked how often they worry about money, 1 in 3 respondents said “all of the time,” which was the single most common response. With so much anxiety, fear and stress over personal finances, it’s no wonder so many people have so many questions. Now, if they’d only listen to the answers.

>> Get discounts on financial services with your AARP Member Advantages.

Whether or not people agree with my cheapskate advice, I love to dole it out in special Q&A episodes of The Cheap Life, the weekly Web show I host for AARP. Check out this week’s Q&A, in which I respond to viewers' questions about preparing for retirement, going on a weeklong “fiscal fast” and, one of my all-time favorite questions, “If everyone becomes a cheapskate like you, won’t the world economy collapse?”

Leave me your questions here —  if you dare — and stay cheap!

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