Friday’s need-to-know money news

Financial-PlanningToday’s top story: How to find the best mortgage rate online. Also in the news: How to set up your first 401(k), what happens if you work after signing up for Social Security, and why we value purchases more when we pay with cash.

How to Find the Best Mortgage Rates and Lenders Online
Comparison shopping.

Class of 2016, Here’s How to Set Up Your First 401(k)
Happy Graduation! Time to focus on retirement.

What Happens if You Work After Signing Up for Social Security?
What you can and cannot collect.

Why We Value Purchases More When We Pay With Cash
The psychology of spending.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Image9Today’s top story: How payday loans work, and what they cost. Also in the news: Getting the most out of a retirement calculator, money tips you should ignore, and the best budgeting apps for your financial life.

Payday Loans: How They Work, What They Cost
Reading the fine print.

5 Steps to Get the Most Out of a Retirement Calculator
Planning ahead.

15 Money Tips You Should Ignore
Not all advice is good advice.

The 5 best budgeting apps for tracking and planning your financial life
Help at your fingertips.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

money-vacation-saveToday’s top story: Overcoming the obstacles between you and retirement. Also in the news: What the President wants to tell college students, what happens when your debt goes to collections, and how to pay less for staying cool this summer.

5 Obstacles Between You and Retirement (and How to Overcome Them)
Clearing the pathway to a solid retirement.

5 Things the President Wants to Tell College Students
Messages for students and student loan borrowers.

What Happens When Your Debt Goes to a Collector?
Not every debt collection process is the same.

Stay cool, but pay less for electricity this summer
Your wallet’s hot enough.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Carrying a credit card balance for the first time. Also in the news: Closing the bank of Mom and Dad, why the starter home is in decline, and an employee benefit that could help with student loans.

Carrying a Credit Card Balance for the First Time
Managing the debt.

Closing the Bank of Mom and Dad
Take your business elsewhere.

More first-time buyers skip starter home stage for bigger, better
The decline of the starter home.

This employee benefit could become as popular as the 401(k)
Seeking help with student loans.

Should you save enough to live to 100?

common-retirement-mistakesFirst, you were supposed to die at 85. Then 90. Now 95 and even 100 are common defaults when financial planners tell people how much to save for retirement.

Except that’s nuts.

In the U.S., the typical man at age 65 is expected to live another 18 years. The typical woman, about 20. Yet many financial planners contend we should save as if we’re all going to be centenarians.

In my new column for the Associated Press, why we need to save for the retirement we’re most likely to have.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

2Today’s top story: Six things that scare your financial advisor. Also in the news: How to report a tax cheat, releasing a student loan co-signer, and the top 10 affordable cities for renters.

6 Things That Scare Your Financial Advisor
What keeps them up at night.

How to Report a Tax Cheat and Get a Reward
Helping Uncle Sam and your wallet.

You Can Release a Student Loan Cosigner If You’ve Made Timely, Regular Payments
Sweet freedom.

Top 10 most affordable cities for renters
Is yours on the list?

Q&A: How does a lottery winner find a financial advisor she can trust?

Dear Liz: I’m a middle-aged, single, childless woman who won a very nice lottery prize. I took the “cash value” option and after paying federal tax, I was left with $1.2 million. I would like to pay cash for a home, have a tidy nest egg put aside and have money for travel and other occasional luxuries. I also receive a disability pension of $1,800 a month, which includes medical and dental benefits. Do I need a financial planner at this point? I was figuring I knew what to do, but may need an expert to help me go about doing it.

Answer: One of the things you’ll notice, if you haven’t already, is how people will come out of the woodwork to “help” you with your money. Some position themselves as advisors, while others will be offering “business opportunities” or just looking for handouts.

You would be smart to seek out a trustworthy fee-only financial advisor to help make the most of your money and to deal with all those who want to part you from it. The phrase “That sounds interesting — let me run it past my financial planner” can short-circuit a lot of importuning.

The planner can help you determine a safe spending rate for your windfall and discuss some issues you may not have considered, such as the need for more liability insurance (since you’re now a bigger lawsuit target) and a plan to pay for long-term care.

The advisor you want won’t be found at your doorstep or in your email box, begging for your business. The best planners are too busy advising to run after lottery winners. You can find referrals to fee-only planners at the National Assn. of Personal Financial Advisors (www.napfa.org) and the Garrett Planning Network (www.garrettplanningnetwork.com). Interview at least three and make sure they’re willing to sign a fiduciary oath to put your interests first.

Q&A: Clash over the state of their mother’s estate

Dear Liz: My husband’s mother passed away in January. His younger sister was executor of the estate. His mother had investments of close to $1 million prior to 2008. She supposedly lost half her investments with the downturn. When she passed away, my husband’s sister said that there was nothing left in the estate. What documents can he ask to see in order to make sure the estate is totally depleted? There wasn’t even a will shown to him.

Answer: If your mother-in-law had a will, or if she died “intestate” — without any estate planning documents — the sister would be required to open a probate case to settle the estate. Probate proceedings are public so your husband would be able to see an accounting of what’s left.

If your mother-in-law had a living trust, the sister wouldn’t have to open a probate case but she may be required to provide trust documents and an accounting of the estate to beneficiaries and heirs. The exact rules depend on the state where your mother-in-law died.

If the sister balks at providing this information, your husband may need to take her to court. He’d be smart to consult an attorney familiar with the relevant state’s laws.

Q&A: Co-signing a grandchild’s student loan

Dear Liz: My granddaughter, who will graduate college in a year, has asked me to co-sign her third private loan, which will bring her total debt to $30,000. She needs three people to co-sign. Her parents and the other grandparents have agreed and she wants me to be the third party. I love my granddaughter and trust her intentions, but I really don’t like co-signing a loan for anyone. If I refuse, I’ll really be in the doghouse. Is there any way I could guarantee that I would only be responsible for this loan if the others don’t pay?

Answer: Co-signers are equally responsible for paying a debt. There isn’t a hierarchy. If your granddaughter fails to pay a loan, it will affect the credit reports and credit scores of anyone who co-signed that loan.

It would be unusual for any student loan to require three co-signers. What she may have meant is that her parents co-signed her first loan, her other grandparents co-signed the second and now she wants you to co-sign the third.

In any case, there’s no way to get the guarantee you want. If you’re not comfortable co-signing, don’t. Your family members should be the ones in the doghouse if they pressure you in any way to go along with this scheme.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

pokemon-goToday’s top story: Protecting your kids and your data while playing Pokemon GO. Also in the news: Bankruptcy means test, the hidden student loan cost no one talks about, and what to do when you’ve been dumped by your bank.

Pokémon Go: How to Keep Your Kids and Your Data Safe
Gotta catch ’em all!

The Bankruptcy Means Test: What It Is, Why It Matters
Determining your bankruptcy eligibility.

The Hidden Student Loan Cost No One Talks About
Introducing interest capitalization.

Help! My Bank Dumped Me
What to do when your bank breaks up with you.