‘Smart’ money moves that aren’t so smart

The odds of winning a lottery are infinitesimal. Yet inevitably, someone does. Inspired by the idea of a huge payoff, millions of people burn money on lottery tickets.

The financial strategies below aren’t as much of a long shot as the lottery. More than a handful of people may actually benefit. But many who are tempted to use them don’t understand how high the odds are stacked against success. In my latest for the Associated Press, what seem like smart money moves on the surface may hide perils underneath.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Budgeting for college students. Also in the news: What to do when the GI Bill won’t cover college, 6 ways to travel cheaply, and why frugal retirees are ditching the 4% rule and hoarding their savings instead. Budgeting for College Students: Where to Start You don’t have to live on ramen. What […]

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Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do when you’ve reached your savings goal. Also in the news: What to do when you’re upside down on a car loan, Social Security surprises that may leave money on the table, and what to do if you need $100 fast. Reached Your Savings Goals? Here’s What to Do Next […]

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Q&A: This trust avoids probate (but not death and taxes)

Dear Liz: Reading your articles I understand that having a revocable living trust makes transferring wealth quicker and easier. What about taxes? If you use a will to bequeath your house, for example, the beneficiaries get a stepped-up cost basis. What are the taxes with a revocable living trust? Do you pay taxes on assets […]

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Q&A: So many credit scores — here’s how to get yours

Dear Liz: You recently discussed FICO scores. Please let me know how I can get mine. My bank says it can only give my husband his score because he is the principal on our account. Answer: Remember that you don’t have one FICO credit score, you have many. Lenders use different versions and generations of […]

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Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to cash in on short-term rentals like Airbnb. Also in the news: How to get your business out of debt in five steps, and how to make to make the most of your summer vacation. How to Cash In on Short-Term Rentals Like Airbnb, VRBO Generating extra income with your extra […]

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Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The high cost of bad credit. Also in the news: 5 tips to finding a cheaper flight, auto-paying bills by credit card, and United States workers are losing out on billions of dollars in pay. How Costly Is Bad Credit? Many Don’t Know, Survey Shows Ignorance isn’t bliss. 5 Tips to Find […]

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Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: A guide to who needs life insurance. Also in the news: Budgeting for new parents, planning a summer family vacation, and how to still afford a house while spending all your money on avocado toast. A Guide to Who Needs Life Insurance Do you? Budgeting for New Parents: From Day Care to […]

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How to ruin your finances fast

Some financial disasters are a long time in the making. It typically takes years of unfortunate choices — minimum credit card payments, forgone savings opportunities — to create suffocating debt or a poverty-level retirement. Other disasters you can trigger almost instantly. The decision itself costs money, or the clock starts ticking toward a consequence you […]

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