3 smart strategies to get the best deal on everything

Thanks to the ease of comparison shopping online, almost anyone can suss out a 10% discount these days, and 20% isn’t all that tough either. But if you’re looking for major-league savings—the kind that can reach 30% to 50% off or more—then you need a special weapon. You need intel.

In my latest for Money magazine, find out when is the best time to buy whatever you’ve had your eye on.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Credit report with score on a desk

Credit report with score on a desk

Today’s top story: Why students missed out on nearly $3 billion dollars in financial aid. Also in the news: Things on your credit report that look like errors, but might not be, how to protect your loved ones from financial elder abuse, and how to protect inherited IRA assets from creditors via a trust.

3 Things on Your Credit Report That Look Like Errors, But Might Not Be
Analyzing your report.

Why students missed out on $2.7 billion in financial aid last year
The FAFSA is essential.

How to Protect Your Loved Ones (and Yourself) From Financial Elder Abuse
Protecting their assets.

Protect Inherited IRA Assets From Creditors With a Trust
Keeping your inheritance.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

taxesToday’s top story: A beginner’s guide to filing taxes in 2016. Also in the news: The benefits of a “Walk Away” fund, simple ways to catch up on retirement savings, and the financial choices you’ll regret ten years from now.

A Beginner’s Guide To Filing Taxes In 2016
Don’t be intimidated.

Save money now, so you can fire your boss later
Creating a “walk away” fund.

5 simple ways to catch up on your retirement savings
It’s never too late.

10 Financial Choices You’ll Regret in 10 Years
Things can look a whole lot different ten years down the road.

You Can’t Earn Your Way Out of a Spending Problem
Addressing the spending problem first.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to get your credit card’s annual fee to pay for itself. Also in the news: Balancing debt reduction and retirement savings, money lessons to teach your kids, and why you should check your FAFSA status.

How to Get Your Credit Card’s Annual Fee to Pay for Itself
Getting the most out of your credit card.

How to Balance Debt Reduction and Retirement Savings
You can do both.

4 Money Lessons Smart Parents Teach Their Kids
It’s never too early to start teaching them.

How and Why to Check Your FAFSA Status
Staying on top of the financial aid process.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

321562-data-breachesToday’s top story: The worst online passwords of 2015. Also in the news: Why you should beware of the word “afford,” how to start saving for your retirement in your 20s and 30s, and steps to get more college financial aid.

The Worst Passwords of 2015
Stop making life easy for identity thieves.

Be Suspicious of the Word “Afford” to Keep Your Budget Balanced
Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you should buy it.

6 Steps to Saving for Retirement in Your 20s and 30s
It’s never too early to start saving.

3 Steps to More College Financial Aid From FAFSA
The sooner you fill out the form, the better.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

North-Dakota-Oil-BoomToday’s top story: Habits that can help you build good credit. Also in the news: Lessons from the oil boom and bust, replacing your financial adviser, and how to prepare for the new Obamacare tax form.

4 Habits That Can Help You Build Good Credit
Getting in the habit of building credit.

Five personal finance lessons from the oil boom and bust
What you can learn from the volitaile oil market.

Should You Replace Your Financial Adviser In 2016?
How to tell if you’re getting your money’s worth.

Are you prepared for new Obamacare tax forms?
New year, new tax form.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Free ways to improve your credit score. Also in the news: Financial habits to break, how a money club could improve your financial life, and tips to avoid a tax audit.

5 Free Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
Small things you can do to boost your numbers.

Break These Financial Habits in 2016
Getting back on track.

Start a Money Club to Improve Your Financial Life
Power in numbers.

7 Tips for Avoiding a Tax Audit
Honesty is the key.

7 in 10 Americans See Added Stigma in Credit Card Debt, Survey Shows
Are you ashamed of your debt?

Monday’s need-to-know money news

lottery-ticket-jpgToday’s top story: The high cost of winning a billion dollars. Also in the news: Tips for tackling your student loan costs, how banks are earning billions in ATM and overdraft fees, and basic personal finance facts people constantly get wrong.

The High Cost of Claiming Your Powerball Jackpot
Winning a billion dollars is awfully expensive.

5 tips for tackling your student loan costs
Tackling them head on.

ATM and overdraft fees top $6 billion at the big 3 banks
How much did you contribute?

Six Basic Personal Finance Facts People Constantly Get Wrong
No more excuses.

Q&A: Health insurance subsidies

Dear Liz: We’re living on a very tight budget and often have to put groceries and unexpected expenses on a credit card that’s in my husband’s name only. I have no personal income. My husband is on Medicare, but I’m too young to qualify and need to find low- or no-cost healthcare, (I haven’t had any insurance since 2007.) They are using my husband’s total income and coming up with high rates that are supposed to be lowered by tax credit, but we don’t pay income tax because our income is too low. Should they be using what the IRS considers our income to be? Or could I apply using my zero personal income?

Answer:
By “they,” you presumably mean a health insurance marketplace where you shopped for policies offered by private insurers. HealthCare.gov is the federal marketplace and many states, including California, offer their own. When you shop for a policy through a marketplace, you can qualify for subsidies that can dramatically lower the cost of your coverage.

This subsidy, also known as a premium tax credit, is based on your household income, not your individual income. The tax credit is refundable, which means you get it whether or not you owe federal income taxes, and you can opt to have the subsidy paid in advance to the health insurer to lower your premiums. You don’t have to wait until you file your taxes to get the money back.

You’ll want to act quickly, though, because the penalty for not having coverage is rising. The penalty for 2016 is the greater of $695 per adult or 2.5% of income. You still have a short window to avoid that hit: The enrollment deadline is Jan. 31.