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The Simple Dollar

ARMs: How do they work? And can you use a Roth IRA as an emergency fund?

ARMs (question 2), Roth IRAs (question 10), and other personal finance questions fill the Reader's Mailbag.

By Guest blogger / November 12, 2010

Confused about your personal finances? You're not alone. This week's reader mailbag includes questions about ARMs, IRAs, 529s, and more.

Illustration / Gentry Mullen / Newscom / File

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What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question.
1. Sharing too much information online
2. How do ARMs work?
3. World Series prediction
4. First time apartment hunting
5. Saving for a wedding
6. Workbook for missions/goals
7. In-person insurance agent?
8. Moving up at difficult workplace
9. Trying board games
10. Roth IRA as emergency fund

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In our neighborhood, trick-or-treat night is a pretty significant event. We receive approximately 300 trick-or-treaters to our door each year, which means that we have almost a nonstop stream for about two and a half hours. Add onto that the presence of friends of our own children who tend to stick around for a bit and you have a busy evening.

Our technique for handing out treats is to hit a warehouse store beforehand, buying them in bulk. Fruit Roll-Ups tend to be a pretty big hit, actually, and they’re better than a chunk o’ chocolate.

Q1: Sharing too much information online
(How) would you tell an acquaintance or distant relative that they (or even worse yet, their children) are giving away too much information about themselves openly in the Internet (and especially in Facebook)?

I’ve got a tendency of sounding like Miss Know-it-all and smacking the facts on peoples faces, and being afraid of looking like a stalker or scaremonger I’ve not yet said anything to friends-of-a-friend in Facebook about how they are compromising their own or their immediate family’s privacy. I’ve not asked why do they allow their children to be on Facebook (sometimes the kids are under 13, which is under TOS of FB!) nor why their profiles are so unprotected. I’ve considered different ways of asking, but every time I end up thinking I sound like outside meddler that noses other people’s business, while I like to think of myself only meaning good. Should I continue my silence and if not, what would seem to you as the best way of conveying my genuine concern?
- Mia

I agree with you that privacy is a real concern with sites like Facebook. There is quite clearly a greatly exaggerated sense of privacy on the site, causing people to say and post things that are not exactly the types of things that they want future employers or polite acquaintances to know about them.

The best approach, I think, is to simply show them some of the tools and techniques people use to see other people’s “private” information. Like this one, for example. Your information on Facebook is only as secure as the most gullible of your friends, in other words.

Yes, such approaches have dodgy ethics, but isn’t it the people with dodgy ethics that we don’t want seeing our private information?