Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why you need a 401(k) in your 20s. Also in the news: How being lazy can help you save money, the new rules of credit card point etiquette, and how to spot financial infidelity.

Yes, You Need a 401(k) in Your 20s — Here’s Why
Paving the long road.

How Being Lazy Can Help You Save Money
Automatic banking can help.

New Rules of Credit Card Points Etiquette
When to use your points.

How to Spot Financial Infidelity
Noticing the signs.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Buying home insurance after a wildfire starts. Also in the news: Why good credit might not be good enough for a mortgage, a quick quiz to test how you’re doing financially, and why Americans are more afraid of student debt than they are of Kim Jong Un.

Can You Buy Home Insurance After a Wildfire Starts?
It could be too late.

Want a Mortgage? Good Credit Might Not Be Good Enough
What else you might need.

How Are You Doing Financially? Take This Quick Quiz
How’d you do?

Americans are more terrified of student debt than North Korea’s Kim Jong Un
When your debt is scarier than a nuclear weapon.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 7 signs you’ve gone from frugal to cheap. Also in the news: 7 ways to avoid becoming a scary student loan statistic, following the lead of Millennials to save more for retirement, and retirement community fees that can be deducted as medical expenses.

7 Signs You’ve Gone From Frugal to Cheap
A slippery slope.

7 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Scary Student Loan Stat
Don’t become a statistic.

To Save More for Retirement, Follow These Millennials’ Lead

You can deduct these retirement community fees as medical expenses
Unexpected savings.

Q&A: How student loans can follow you to the grave

Dear Liz: Several years ago, my daughter called in tears asking if I could help because my granddaughter, who was halfway through her first year of college, would have to drop out if she didn’t immediately finish paying her tuition. I agreed to co-sign a loan, thinking after she got through that semester, they could see how things went.

Well, unbeknownst to me, she took out a loan that also covered the next semester. She dropped out of school in her second year. Now several years later, I’m being hounded by the lender because neither my granddaughter or daughter seem to think they should have to do anything about this. I sometimes get up to four calls a day, seven days a week. I have returned calls but gotten nowhere.

Meanwhile, my granddaughter recently got a brand-new car and posts pictures of herself enjoying partying with friends. I tried to get her to talk to me about it, thinking if she, along with her mom and myself, could each manage to pay a little each month we could work on getting this taken care of, but I got no response from either of them.

My daughter and son-in-law still go on cruises and do other traveling, drive newer expensive vehicles and will no longer talk to me.

I am 73 and struggling to live month-to-month on Social Security, which is my only income. I used to have an 800 credit score that has now gone down into the 600s because of this.

Now I am afraid they will start taking this out of my Social Security check. This loan is about 72% of my total annual income! My doctor has upped one of my medications as I have trouble sleeping worrying about this.

What am I to do? The only way I can see out of this would be my death, and then I’m afraid it would even follow me to my grave.

Answer: If you co-signed the loan, then it was likely made by a private lender that won’t be able to take your Social Security check. Federal student loans are a different story. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that up to 15% of borrowers’ Social Security benefits can be taken to repay those.

Federal student loans also have no statute of limitations, which means the government can indeed pursue you to the grave. Private student loans, however, do limit how long lenders have to sue you over the debt. The time limit varies by state and is typically three to 10 years, but the limit may be extended in some areas if you make a payment on the debt or even acknowledge that it’s yours.

You should make an appointment to talk to a bankruptcy attorney. Student loans typically can’t be erased in bankruptcy, but an attorney familiar with the credit laws in your state can advise you about how vulnerable you might be to lawsuits and other collection actions.

If Social Security is your only income and you don’t have other assets a creditor can take, you may be “judgment proof.” That means a lender can sue you, but won’t be able to collect anything.

If that’s the case, the attorney may be able to communicate the situation to the lender so that it can redirect its energies to collecting from your irresponsible granddaughter.

Q&A: Keep your ID papers current

Dear Liz: In helping my 92-year-old father update his trust, we ran into a snag. Both his passport and driver’s license had expired.

We thought he didn’t need them since he does not travel, drive or hit the bars.

But to notarize documents, you need current identification. Getting a state ID card added many weeks to the process.

Remind your elderly readers to keep their ID current.

Answer: Consider it done.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: New payday loan rule protects borrowers from sinking into debt. Also in the news: Sailing into Columbus Day sales, how to make money on Amazon, and why you’re losing money if cash is your only savings strategy.

New Payday Loan Rule Protects Borrowers From Sinking Into Debt
Protecting the consumer.

Should You Sail Into Columbus Day Sales?
What to purchase this weekend.

How to Make Money on Amazon
So that you can turn around and then spend it on Amazon.

If Cash Is Your Only Savings Strategy, You’re Losing Money
A piggy bank doesn’t draw interest.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why a rainy day fund is as crucial as emergency savings. Also in the news: How to deal with a credit card issuer who has you seeing red, how to make money on Upwork, and 5 personal finance tips from billionaires.

Rainy Day Fund Is as Crucial as Emergency Savings
Handling all levels of crises.

Credit Card Issuer Got You Seeing Red? Try These Tips
Demanding answers.

New Freelancers: How to Make Money on Upwork
Earning some pocket money.

5 Personal Finance Tips From Billionaires
Learning from the best.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Crush impulse buying with these 4 Jedi mind tricks. Also in the news: 4 ways to make money as a college student, how and why to place a fraud alert on your credit lines, and what to do if you’ve lowballed yourself into a crummy salary.

Crush Impulse Buying With These 4 Jedi Mind Tricks
Buy this you won’t.

4 Ways to Make Money as a College Student
So you’re not stuck with ramen.

How to Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit, and Why
Monitoring your credit lines.

How to Negotiate After You’ve Lowballed Yourself Into a Crummy Salary
Don’t accept less than you’re worth.

Equifax just changed the rest of your life

Adding freezes to your credit reports is an appropriate response to the massive Equifax database breach that exposed the private information of 143 million Americans.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking those freezes will keep you safe, however.

Credit freezes lock down your credit reports in a way that should prevent “new account fraud,” or bogus accounts being opened in your name. But there are so many other ways the bad guys can use the information they stole, which included Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses and some driver’s license numbers. In my latest for the Associated Press, find out the other ways the Equifax breach will affect your life for years to come.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 mobile banking alerts to help you fight fraud. Also in the news: What to do if you can’t replay your SBA loan, 7 habits of highly effective credit card users, and the worst cities for record high ATM fees.

5 Mobile Banking Alerts to Help You Fight Fraud
Using your phone to protect your money.

What to Do If You Can’t Pay Back Your SBA Loan

7 Habits of Highly Effective Credit Card Users

$5 to access your own money? ATM fees jump to record high and these cities are the worst