Veteran personal finance journalist Robert Powell answers your questions.

Q: My husband is 63. He will leave his outside sales job the end of 2014. If doesnt look for another job and waits until hes 66 to draw Social Security how will that affect his annual Social Security base? I understand they average the last five years of your salary. Also, any advice how to get health insurance until hes eligible for Medicare? Denell Whittingham, Harrisburg, Ark.

A: Unless you have been on disability, Social Security benefits are based on your highest 35 years of adjusted earnings, not just the last five, says Joe Elsasser, a certified financial planner with Sequent Planning in Omaha and co-author...

Dear Dr. Don,

I recently read your response to a question from Lori Long-Term regarding the move of a 529 plan to a prepaid college tuition plan. We are in a similar situation.

As Florida residents, we have 529 plans for our 6-year-old child. The states prepaid tuition plan recently reduced the plan cost, which was good news. A lump sum for the four-year university plan will cost us $27,250.34. We would like to transfer the funds from our out-of-state 529 plan to the Florida prepaid tuition plan. As I understand, the Florida prepaid tuition plan is separate from the Florida 529 savings plan. Can we transfer or roll over from our 529 plan to the Florida prepaid tuition plan without...

Mario B. Morales took to the streets of Houston with gusto and his uncle’s specially smoked meats. He entered the food truck rush aspiring to one day own a restaurant and multiple food trucks. But he lacked a critical component: bank financing to get his dreams rolling.

Like many startups and small-business owners, Morales found banks unwilling to finance his fledgling operation. So he turned to microlender Accion Texas for a $5,000 loan. That money was used to help purchase a quieter, more powerful generator to get Yummy Dog, serving gourmet sausage dogs, the business kick it needed.

Microlenders, like Accion Texas, are helping startups and small businesses that can’t...

THE RECENT sabre rattling by Vladimir Putin may have unwittingly done what the United States Congress has failed to do for decades: refocus attention–and billions of additional dollars–on overhauling Americas nuclear arsenal. The $585 billion defence bill for the next fiscal year sailed through the House of Representatives last week with broad bipartisan support, and then did the same in the Senate on December 12th, despite all the fractious squabbling over the $1.1 trillion government funding measure.

More pertinently, the $11.7 billion request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a branch of the Department of Energy that oversees nuclear weapons,...

Happily for Otto, several forthcoming titles share how the authors spiritual beliefs helped them conquer debt, live frugally, or even start a business. Bamp;H is bringing out a 10th-anniversary edition of 48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal, by Dan Miller (Jan. 2015), with more than 60% new content. Coming in April 2015 is Evangelpreneur: How Biblical Free Enterprise Can Empower Your Faith, Family, and Freedom, by Josh Tolley (BenBella), who hosts a national radio show on the Genesis Communication Network.

Debt, a perennial personal finance topic, can also be a spiritual issue, says Sarah Atkinson, Tyndale associate acquisitions director. In Slaying the Debt Dragon:...

People make several mistakes when saving and investing for retirement, and one of the biggest ones is not getting started because they think they need a large sum of money to begin, says Tony Robbins, 54, an inspirational speaker and best-selling author.

What you want is at least a small amount of money you consistently invest, says Robbins, author of a new 656-page book, Money: Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom. It includes information from his interviews with more than 50 top financial experts including Charles Schwab, Carl Icahn, Warren Buffett, Steve Forbes, hedge fund manager Ray Dalio and Vanguard founder John Bogle.

When I asked Warren Buffett —...

The move could put the brakes on the rampant property markets in Sydney and Melbourne, which have seen house prices rise at a double-digit pace fuelled in part by demand for investment loans.

The investigation will probe the banks, including the big four, as well as non-bank lenders and their behaviour as the property market heats up, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission said.

The review follows concerns by regulators about higher-risk lending, following strong house price growth in Sydney and Melbourne, it said.

ASIC, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Treasury were working together on the investigation,...

Juggling multiple accounts for banking, credit cards and investments can be a challenge. Maybe you’ve tried to build your own elaborate filing system, or used a software program to track your money.

If you’re willing to put your personal financial information in a web-based program, Mint.com allows you to track all your accounts in one place – and it does it for free. 

Mint.com launched in 2007 and in 2009 was bought by Intuit (INTU), the makers of TurboTax and Quicken.

Initially, there was skepticism about the security of personal financial information being shared online; those concerns have largely subsided. Mint.com now has 10 million users, has collected...

Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) has been on a continuous slide since July 2014. From peak levels of $39.04 in July 2014, the stock has declined to current levels of $22.82. While there are several negative factors that have resulted in a decline for Freeport-McMoRan, most of the factors are related to the macro-economic scenario and the decline in oil prices. Amidst these challenges, Freeport-McMoRan has done well to sell certain assets and manage debt.

In this article, I will discuss the key positives about the company in a gloomy scenario. These factors back my view that investors can gradually accumulate Freeport-McMoRan for the long term. I say “gradually accumulate” as further...

Consumers may have already purchased gifts or are very close to starting, but think about all of the trimmings, beverages and sweaters that add up quickly. The average total debt owed on things like new cars, vacations, shopping or just paying the bills now stands at $20,891 per person in Canada, according to Equifax Canada.

READ MORE: Canadians pile on more debt, as US households pay it down

“Debt can easily get ahead of you and a lot of people don’t know where to turn for help.  We have created an info graphic that shows people how to tackle their debt in five easy steps,” said Dave Wild, FCAA chair and CEO.

Follow these five steps from the FCAA and Credit...