Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: 5 browser extensions to save you money and time. Also in the news: The pros and cons of store cards, what effect Donald Trump will have on student loans, and the best and worst gift cards to buy this year.

5 Browser Extensions to Save You Money and Time
Making your browser work for you.

Store Credit Card Applications Surge During the Holidays — But Should You Get One?
The pros and cons.

Ask Brianna: Will Trump Hurt or Help My Student Debt?
What loan holders should expect.

The Best and Worst Gift Cards to Buy This Year, Based on Discounts and Popularity
Get the most bang for your buck.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Holiday-tipping-in-tough-times-7FKMMIM-x-largeToday’s top story: For international travel, MasterCard has a slight edge on Visa. Also in the news: How to build a multi-million dollar retirement fund, 10 ways to end 2016 on a financial high note, and 8 ways to keep a leash on your holiday spending.

For International Travel, MasterCard Has Slight Edge on Visa
Which card has the best rates?

How to Build a Multimillion-Dollar Retirement Fund
Step-by-step.

10 Ways to End 2016 on a Financial High Note
Ending the year strong.

8 Ways To Keep A Leash On Holiday Spending
Don’t go overboard.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

common-retirement-mistakesToday’s top story: How to make the 10 years before retirement count. Also in the news: Tips on reining in holiday spending, which generation has the best credit score, and which insurance most car renters can say no to.

5 Ways to Make the 10 Years Before Retirement Count
Fattening your nest egg.

5 Frugality Pros Help You Rein In Holiday Spending
Avoiding the after-holidays sticker shock.

Average U.S. Credit Score Rises; ‘Silent Generation’ Wins Bragging Rights
The older you are, the better your score likely is.

Which insurance most car renters can just say no to
Deciding which insurance you need.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

shutterstock_102945899Today’s top story: With a new Education Secretary on the horizon, the outlook for student loan debt relief is unclear. Also in the news: The 5 best ways to invest $10,000, where people are banking off the grid, and 5 apps to make donating easier on this Giving Tuesday.

Outlook for Student Loan Debt Relief Unclear With Education Secretary Pick
What student loan holders need to know about Betsy DeVos.

The 5 Best Ways to Invest $10,000
What to do with your windfall.

Here’s Where People Are Off the Banking Grid
In 2015, 7% of American households were unbanked.

These 5 apps will make donating easy this Giving Tuesday
Help is just an app away.

When your kid is a financial train wreck

Financial planners and credit counselors see plenty of examples. The grown son who lost a job, moved home and stopped looking for work. The daughter who constantly mismanaged her checking account — and turned to payday lenders when parents stopped covering her overdrafts. The father working into his 70s to support spendthrift children in their 40s and 50s.

Kristi Sullivan, a certified financial planner in Denver, once worked with an elderly couple whose offspring constantly turned to them for help.

“The clients couldn’t understand why their grandchildren had all the latest iPads and phones, but when a car or home repair came up, their adult children always had to ask them for money,” Sullivan said.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to set boundaries to protect your own finances and help your kids in an emergency.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Pile of Credit CardsToday’s top story: How to choose your second credit card. Also in the news: How home insurance can cover your holiday disasters, how Affordable Care Act plans could change in 2017, and how to calculate how long it’ll take you to get out of the debt.

How to Choose Your Second Credit Card
Finding a card that compliments your spending habits.

No Need to Pout: Home Insurance Can Cover That Holiday Disaster
Saving you from becoming The Grinch.

How Affordable Care Act Marketplace Insurance Plans Will Change in 2017
A new administration could bring big changes.

How Long It Will Take to Get Out of Debt, Depending on Your Monthly Payment
Calculating your escape date.

Q&A: What to consider when deciding how to bequeath your home

Dear Liz: I’m at 74-year-old retired woman living in a completely paid-off condo in California. I hold title in my name only. I would like to add my partner of 20 years and my married adult daughter to my home title so they will not have to go through probate if something happens to me. What would be the easiest way to do that? Someone told me a quick deed to each person giving them a third of the condo. I want it as joint tenancy so the condo would just go to the survivors. My parents always held title with my brother and myself. Do you see a problem with this?

Answer: The “quick deed” to which you refer is probably a quitclaim deed, which would transfer your entire interest in the property to someone else and possibly create gift tax issues. That’s not what you want.

Another option is a revocable transfer on death deed. Like many other states, California now offers this option so that real estate can bypass probate. You would retain ownership of the condo until you die, when it would pass to the people you designate.

But please think carefully before bequeathing a home to two people, especially two who aren’t related or married. What if your daughter needs to sell the house to raise cash and your partner doesn’t want to move? What if your partner needs to remodel the home as she ages but your daughter refuses to share in the costs? Would one have the wherewithal to buy out the other?

Another way to avoid probate would be to create a revocable living trust that allows your partner to live in the home until her death, said Los Angeles real estate attorney Burton Mitchell. The property then could be transferred to your daughter. It may not be the right solution, especially if your partner and daughter have similar life expectancies, but it’s one of many you should explore with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Q&A: Credit cards just keep coming

Dear Liz: I use only two credit cards. But I have several credit cards I never use. When the cards expire, the issuers send me new ones. I just received two more cards, with new expiration dates, which I will not use. I keep hearing that cancellation of cards results in lower credit scores. How can I cancel all the unused cards I have without affecting my 797 score, and how can I stop them from sending me new ones without my authorization?

Answer: Your issuers can continue sending you new cards until the accounts are canceled. Your “authorization” isn’t necessary once you’ve applied for the card. Some credit card companies will close an account that hasn’t been used in more than a year, but others will keep accounts open hoping you’ll start using the cards again someday.

Having several credit cards is typically good for your scores — of which you have many, by the way, not just one. But you don’t have to keep unwanted cards forever. If your scores are in the high 700s you can close the occasional credit card account.

What you don’t want to do is shut down a bunch of cards at once, or close your highest limit cards. Credit scoring formulas are sensitive to the amount of your available credit you’re using. Anything that significantly reduces the amount of available credit you have can hurt your scores.

Q&A: Credit score after bankruptcy

Dear Liz: This is just to add to your observation that credit scores tend to improve after a bankruptcy. I filed Chapter 13, which required a five-year repayment plan. At that point my score was around 640. The day of the discharge, I was able to get a car loan at 3% interest. Also, the bankruptcy dropped off my credit reports seven years from the filing date, and my scores actually dropped a good bit.

Answer: It’s pretty unusual for scores to go down after a bankruptcy drops off your credit reports. It’s possible you weren’t looking at the same type of score because there are many different formulas in use. It also could be there were other changes that happened simultaneously, such as a high balance on a credit account or an old, paid-off loan that a creditor stopped reporting.

It’s not unusual, though, for someone who completes a Chapter 13 to get a competitive rate on a loan where there’s collateral, such as an auto loan, assuming he has a job, credit score expert John Ulzheimer said.

“Debt free plus employed equals not a bad risk, especially if they put down a decent down payment,” Ulzheimer said.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: 4 ways you can protect your credit score over the holidays. Also in the news: Giving Tuesday and beyond, why you should think twice before grabbing certain Black Friday deals, and the used cars with the best discounts on Black Friday.

4 Ways You Can Protect Your Credit Score Over the Holidays
Monitoring is key.

Giving Tuesday and Beyond: How Millennials Like to Contribute
Bucking against the self-centered stereotype.

Think twice before grabbing this Black Friday deal
It’s all in the wording.

The Used Cars With the Best Deals on Black Friday
Used car shopping on Black Friday? Why not!