Jill on Money: Downsizing, Education Funding

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With interest rates still low and the housing market showing some signs of life, there's been an uptick in questions about refinancing, downsizing and how to finance large home improvements. Sarah from Kentucky just refinanced three years ago, but the value of the home has dropped since then and she's not sure whether they should refinance again.

Mary wanted a reality check on whether or not she should pay down her mortgage before retirement, while Brenda and Cynthia are both considering selling their homes and paying cash for smaller ones. I can't emphasize how much I love the idea of downsizing in retirement. The financial aspect is clear, but in my experiences with former clients, having a smaller, more convenient dwelling can reduce headaches.

Dennis from Wisconsin and Rich from New York are in their 50's and are semi-retired. Each needed to know if he's on the right track with investments and overall retirement planning. One warning to young retirees: the longer you can delay tapping into your nest egg, the better!

Tim from Louisville asked whether or not he should worry when financial talking heads warn about a "bond bubble" and Bobby asked for my view of the global economy.

Pat asked about the various terms used in her pension choices, but what she really needs is some independent financial advice.

With college acceptance letters out, there are lots of people trying to weigh financial aid offers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched its Financial Aid Comparison Shopper, an interactive, online tool to help you compare financial aid offers and pick the one that works best for you. You can also check out this TV segment:

Here are web sites and resources mentioned in this week's show:

-- Jill's Blog

-- NAPFA: National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (fee-only advisors)

-- NYT Rent vs. Buy Calculator

-- Re-Fi Calculator

-- Another Re-Fi Calculator

-- 529 plan info

-- Best 529 Plans 2011

-- CFPB Financial Aid Comparison Shopper

-- Financial documents: What to shred, what to keep

-- Estate Planning: the Documents You Need

Thanks to everyone who participated and to Mark, the BEST producer in the world and our new intern, Sehar. If you have a financial question, there are lots of ways to contact us:

Call 855-411-JILL and we'll schedule time to get you on the show LIVE

Send an email: askjill@moneywatch.com

Tweet me: @jillonmoney

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    View all articles by Jill Schlesinger on CBS MoneyWatch »
    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.