Of course college is worth it

22856641_SAFor a nation that needs more college graduates, we seem oddly hellbent on discouraging as many people as possible from getting degrees.

We have not been able to contain the ever-rising cost, simplify needlessly complicated financial aid forms or protect lower-income aspirants from the for-profit colleges that want to fleece them. Then there are all the media stories questioning the worth of a college degree.

The latest headlines, prompted by a multiyear survey on attitudes toward college conducted by pollster Gallup and Purdue University (bit.ly/1N8ByY6), provide breathtaking examples

“Less than half of recent grads think college was worth the cost.”

“Just half of graduates say their education was worth the cost.”

“Recent grads doubt college’s worth.”

In my latest for Reuters, why everyone needs post-secondary training.

And in my latest for MoneyWatch, why chip-enabled credit cards are well worth the hassle.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

images (1)Today’s top story: TransUnion is about to change the game for those without credit scores. Also in the news: Why managing your money seems terrifying, 12 things you should never do with your money, and money moves to make before the end of the year.

60 Million People Who Don’t Have a Credit Score Could Be in Luck
TransUnion is about to change the credit score game.

8 Reasons Managing Money Seems Terrifying
How to overcome your fears.

12 things you should never do with your money
Never ever.

Make these 10 money moves before 2015 is over
Time to get your year-end finances in order.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

medical concept -  stethoscope over the dollar billsToday’s top story: How to estimate your major medical costs. Also in the news: Financial planning for the child-free, steps to take before buying a car, and hacks to winterize your home and cut your heating bills.

How to Predict the Size of Your Next Major Medical Bill
Doing your research can save you from sticker shock.

No Kids? You’re Not Off the Hook for Financial Planning
Steps to take if you’re child-free.

Financial steps to take before buying a car
Prepare yourself for the tricks of the dealership.

Filed A Federal Tax Extension? 7 Money Must-Dos Before October 15
Tick tock…

13 Hacks to Winterize Your Home – and Trim Your Heating Bill
Winter is coming…and not just to Westeros.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Also in the news: Financial goals for new millennial parents, money mistakes that could derail your retirement, and money moves to make before your 40th birthday.

Most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings
Potentially disastrous in more ways than one.

3 Financial Goals for New Millennial Parents
It’s all about the budget.

7 Bad Decisions You Could Make in Your 30s and 40s to Derail Your Retirement
Long term reprecussions.

Money Steps to Take Before Your 40th Birthday
Retirement will be here sooner than you think.

‘Ladders’ Help You Build a Flexible Personal Finance Plan
Rung by rung.

Q&A: Home remodel

Dear Liz: I would like to add on and remodel so my home will be nice for me when I retire in a few years (probably around age 65).

I have a recently refinanced 30-year mortgage at 4.1%, but I’ve been making additional principal payments on a 20-year schedule. I think I can do what I want for around $200,000. (But of course it may be more.)

Post-construction, I’m estimating that the house would have a market value of $800,000 to $900,000, but the real motivation is to have new heating and air conditioning, new windows and floors, and electrical wiring.

I think I deserve it, despite the major disruption that remodeling provides. My question is: Do I do this with cash, or should I finance it?

If things work out as planned, I’ll have a pension of around $7,000 a month that should take care of my living expenses (including the ability to pay a bit of a higher mortgage), and I have about $350,000 in post-tax savings.

I additionally have about $500,000 in pretax retirement accounts that I plan to draw off of for inflation as the years go by.

I have never been comfortable with a lot of risk — I’ve never even had a car payment — but I probably could have amassed more if I hadn’t been so financially conservative.

Answer: You’re contemplating adding a considerable amount of debt at a time in life when most people are eager to pay theirs off.

They want to reduce their living expenses and the amount they have to pull from retirement funds. Being debt-free is one way to reduce the chances of running short of money after you quit working.

That’s not to say debt in retirement is always bad — especially for people like you, who have enough pension income to cover living expenses plus a good amount of other savings.

Your investments, if properly deployed, are likely to earn a better return than the after-tax cost of your debt. That said, your conservative nature could make it hard for you to sleep at night if you face significant house payments after you stop working.

You should discuss your options with a fee-only financial planner who can evaluate your entire financial situation.

You can discuss tapping your savings for the remodel, taking on more debt, changing the scope of what you want or moving. If what you’re after is a more modern home, it may make more sense to move than to endure the expense and disruption of a major remodel.

If you do remodel, consider adding features that will allow you to age in place more safely, such as installing grab bars, widening hallways and doorways, improving lighting and eliminating steps where possible.

The National Assn. of Home Builders has an Aging-in-Place Remodeling Checklist on its site, at www.nahb.org.

Q&A: Social Security benefits

Dear Liz: My husband and I will be retiring at the end of 2016. He will be 70 and will start taking his Social Security; I will be 65 soon after.

Thanks to your advice, I plan to sign up to get 50% of his Social Security benefit when I’m 66 (my full retirement age) and switch to my own benefit later.

But will my own Social Security be less because I won’t be earning any money between age 66 and 70? If so, would I be just as well off taking my own benefit at 66 or should I still wait until I’m 70? Money needs will not be an issue.

Answer: Your benefit will grow 8% every year you put off filing for your own retirement checks between age 66 and age 70. That’s a powerful incentive to delay, especially when you can get spousal benefits in the meantime.

If you did work after age 66, your benefit might increase a bit more depending on how much you earned.

Your Social Security benefit is based on your 35 highest-earning years, so a higher-earning year late in life could replace a lower-earning year earlier in life.

Your continued employment would have the biggest effect if those lower-earning years showed no or very little income.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

1412020991000-ATMToday’s top story: What you could buy with the money you’re paying in ATM fees. Also in the news: How to fix your investment portfolio by January, what you need to do before retirement, and how to make sure your assets go to the right people when you’re gone.

What you could buy with the money you waste on out-of-network ATM fees
ATM fees have soared.

3 Ways to Fix Your Investment Portfolio Before January
Just a couple of months away.

The 4 Things to Do Before Retirement
How to avoid trouble and have piece of mind.

Your Will Might Not Leave Your Assets to the Person You Intended
Making sure your assets go to the right person.

College refinancing options open up for parent PLUS loans

22856641_SAParents who borrowed to put their kids through college now have several options to refinance their federal PLUS loans, including, in some cases, the ability to transfer their debt to those children.

The situation is a sharp turnaround from the period after the financial crisis, when private lenders fled the student loan market and few borrowers were able to refinance their debt to take advantage of lower rates.

Lending began to thaw in 2012 when a few start-ups, credit unions and banks began offering refinancing to student borrowers, said Andy Josuweit, chief executive officer of education loan information site Student Loan Hero.

In my latest for Reuters, a look at which lenders have added PLUS refinancing.

And in my latest for CBS Moneywatch, a look at “card cracking” scams that are taking over social media.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

refinancingToday’s top story: The most affordable places to buy a home. Also in the news: Millions of T-Mobile customers have their data breached, five things you were never told about your home loan, and popular rules of thumb that can wreck your finances.

The Most Affordable Places to Buy a Home in America
Some of these may suprise you.

Millions of T-Mobile Customers Exposed in Experian Breach
What to do if T-Mobile is your carrier.

5 Things They Never Told You About Your Home Loan
Make sure you’re buying the right amount of house.

5 Popular Rules of Thumb That Can Wreck Your Finances
Time for a little mythbusting.

12 Things You Should Never Do With Your Money
Don’t even think about cashing your paycheck.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Why October 1st is a big day for credit cards. Also in the news: The problem with the new credit card technology, identity theft protection, and free financial planning days.

What’s Really Happening to Your Credit Card on Oct. 1?
Introducing the credit card chip.

The problem with America’s new credit card technology
Six in ten Americans don’t have chip-enabled cards.

Identity Theft Protection is on You
No more excuses.

Financial Planning You Can Afford
Free Financial Planning Days begin on October 3rd.