Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Fed point fingers as ‘Debt Relief’ companies prey on student loan borrowers. Also in the news: Distressed borrowers say student debt help was anything but, why investors care about rate hikes, and why your credit cards shouldn’t retire when you do.

Feds Point Fingers as ‘Debt Relief’ Companies Prey on Student Loan Borrowers
Looking for easy targets.

Distressed Borrowers Say Student Debt Help Was Anything But
Compounding a problem.

Why Investors Care About the Fed (and Rate Hikes)
The impact on investments.

Credit hit: Why your credit cards shouldn’t retire when you do
Building credit is still important.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Down payment strategies for first-time buyers. Also in the news: How businesses succeed serving the “bottom of the pyramid,” 3 simple ways to save on Father’s Day, and how easy it is to switch to a credit union.

Down Payment Strategies for First-Time Home Buyers
Taking a big step.

How Businesses Succeed Serving ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’
Serving a need.

3 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Save on Father’s Day
Good things for Dad.

Here’s How Easy It Is to Switch to a Credit Union
Simple.

Book Giveaway: Spring Cleaning Edition.

I’m clearing my shelves of some great personal finance books. Rather than stretch these giveaways out over several weeks, I’m going to be giving away these bundles all at once. All you need to do to enter is to leave a comment on my site specifying which bundle you’re MOST interested in, and which is your second choice.

When you leave your comment here on my blog (not my Facebook page), make sure to include your email address. It won’t show up with your comment, but I’ll be able to see it so I can contact you if you win. Comments are moderated, so it may take a little while for your comment to show up.

The deadline to enter is midnight Pacific time on Friday. Over the weekend, please check your email (including your spam filter). If I don’t hear from a winner by noon Pacific time on Monday, his or her prize will be forfeited and I’ll pick another winner.

And the bundles are:

The Millennial Bundle. These are great books for people in their 20s and 30s, whether they’re just setting up their finances or starting to make big decisions, like buying homes. The books include “Broke Millennial” by Erin Lowry, “Get a Financial Life” by Beth Kobliner and “The Couple’s Guide to Financial Compatibility” by Jeff Motske.

The Kids & Money Bundle.
Want to set your kids on the right financial path? These books can help. They include “Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not)” by Beth Kobliner and “The Teen Money Manual” by Kara McGuire.

The College-Bound Bundle. A college degree has never been more important, or more expensive. These books can help families prepare. They include “The Perfect Score Project” by Debbie Stier, “The Thinking Student’s Guide to College” by Andrew Roberts, “Colleges that Change Lives” by Loren Pope and Hilary Masell Oswald and “Twisdoms about Paying for College” by Mark Kantrowitz.

The Money and Meaning Bundle. These authors dive deeper into how we find purpose and meaning in life, through the filter of money. The books include “Mindful Money” by Jonathan K. DeYoe, “End Financial Stress Now” by Emily Guy Birken, “Leap” by Tess Vigeland and “You Only Live Once” by Jason Vitug.

The Closing-in-on-Retirement Bundle. Someday sooner than you think, retirement will morph from a distant possibility to a looming certainty. These books can help you navigate to the retirement you want. They include “How to Make Your Money Last” by Jane Bryant Quinn, “Unretirement” by Chris Farrell and “Choose Your Retirement” by Emily Guy Birken.

The Big Thinker Bundle. These books are ideal for those who have mastered the basics and want to know more about how finances and the economy work. They include: “The New Rules of Real Estate” by Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries, “The Economics Book” by DK Publishing and “Retirement Heist” by Ellen Schultz.

When your emergency fund runs out

You’ve cut spending to the bone, sold excess stuff and hustled every side gig imaginable. But your emergency fund, if it ever existed, is on fumes.

What you do next may determine how fast — or even whether — you recover from the setback of losing your job.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to survive a lack of emergency funds without making things worse.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why it matters the House voted to squash banking reforms. Also in the news: Your new claims inspector might be a drone, how to build an LGBT-friendly investment portfolio, and how to deal with resentment when your friends make more money than you.

Why It Matters House Voted to Squash Banking Reforms
Consumers will lose.

Meet Your New Claims Inspector: A Drone
Could it speed up the claims process?

How to Build an LGBT-Friendly Investment Portfolio
Diversify.

How to Deal with Resentment When Your Friends Make More Money Than You
A tough spot.

Q&A: Why a reverse mortgage might be a good idea for some older homeowners

Dear Liz: I recently retired to a small house I bought 30 years ago. I refinanced four times to get the rate down from 11% to 3.5%. This provided me with a low monthly mortgage (just under $450), but my current 30-year loan won’t be paid off until I’m 92. I’ll be 67 in two months, and just received an inheritance of $400,000 following the death of my parents. My only income is $2,000 a month from Social Security and a monthly pension check of $1,100, although I do have an IRA that should be worth roughly $170,000 by July.

I’m thinking about paying off the $90,000 remaining on my mortgage, which would allow it to be passed on to my sister, nephew (or whomever) without any complicated bank or loan issues. It also would free up that mortgage payment for other household expenses. The house needs some work, such as a new carport, double-pane windows, proper insulation, deck repair and maybe termite work, all of which will probably eat up the better part of $100,000. Is it worth keeping the loan just to maintain the tax deduction or does it makes financial sense to pay it off?

Answer: Keeping a mortgage just for the tax deduction doesn’t usually make much sense. Here’s why: If you’re in the 25% federal tax bracket, you’re getting back only about 25 cents for each dollar in interest you pay. Most homeowners get even less back, and many don’t get any tax advantage from their mortgages at all.

It can make sense, though, to keep a mortgage to preserve liquidity. Younger people, especially, should be wary of tying up most of their net worth in a home if that equity would be hard to tap in an emergency. Home equity lines of credit offer one way to access that equity, although lenders can freeze or reduce those lines on a whim.

Because you’re over 62, you could consider paying off the loan and then setting up a reverse mortgage line of credit.

An FHA-insured reverse mortgage line of credit can’t be shut down once it’s established, as long as you abide by the loan rules (such as paying your property taxes and insurance, and keeping the home in good condition). In fact, the amount you can borrow can increase over time with a reverse mortgage credit line. You don’t have to make monthly principal and interest payments on the money you borrow with a reverse mortgage.

Any amount you borrow will grow over time, typically at variable interest rates, and will have to be repaid when you die, sell or permanently move out of the home. That would complicate leaving the house to your heirs, but if the amount you owe is greater than the home’s worth, your heirs aren’t on the hook for the difference with an FHA-insured reverse mortgage, also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage.

In any case, preserving an inheritance probably shouldn’t be your top priority. You should focus instead on preserving your quality of life and your financial flexibility.

Reverse mortgages have gotten safer and less expensive in recent years, but you would need to exercise discipline not to waste the money you borrow on frivolous purchases. You want that equity to be available for you when you need it, such as for nursing home or other long-term care expenses.

You would be required to get counseling before applying for a reverse mortgage, but you also should talk to an independent, fee-only financial planner to make sure this approach makes sense.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Finances for same-sex couples – what to consider before saying ‘I Do.’ Also in the news: Use caution when giving gift cards for grad gifts, how loved ones can destroy your finances, and what airlines owe you for an overbooked flight.

Finances for Same-Sex Couples: 7 Things to Consider Before ‘I Do’
Taking a big step.

This Graduation Money Gift Can Disappear Before It’s Spent
Pay close attention to those gift cards.

How Loved Ones Can Destroy Your Finances
Money and emotional ties can be a bad mix.

What does airline owe you for overbooked flight?
It might be more than you think.

Money hacks for real people

Everyone loves a hack — an uncommon solution to a common problem. There’s a reason so much of the internet revolves around things like “This One Little Trick” and “The Secret Doctors Don’t Want You to Know.”

Sometimes money hacks evolve from details buried in the fine print. Wealthy people employ professionals who seek out financial loopholes and aggressively exploit them.

But not every hack requires an accountant. Some can spur you to save more money for retirement or help you to pay bills on time every time. In my latest for the Associated Press, do-it-yourself hacks to make life easier.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to take the heat off your summer budget. Also in the news: How to find out if you’ll owe taxes on an inheritance, 3 things your student loan servicer might not tell you, and what happens to your credit score when you transfer a balance.

How to Take the Heat Off Your Summer Budget
Keep your costs in check.

Find Out If You’ll Owe Taxes on an Inheritance
Don’t spend all that money quite yet.

3 Things Your Student Loan Servicer Might Not Tell You
They’re not always forthcoming.

What Happens to Your Credit Score When You Transfer a Balance?
Looking at the numbers.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to get a tax deduction for moving. Also in the news: Learning about penny stocks, how to deduct graduate school on your taxes, and how to find and purge unwanted recurring charges.

Moving for Work? How to Get a Tax Deduction
An unexpected housewarming gift.

What Is a Penny Stock? An Investment Most Should Avoid
Is it worth the risk?

Deduct Graduate School on Your Taxes? It’s Possible
Looking at the qualifications.

Find and Purge Unwanted Recurring Charges with This Virtual Assistant
Cancel those long-forgotten subscriptions.