Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to live without credit cards. Also in the news: The sad state of American’s emergency funds, what the proposed net neutrality law could mean for your internet, and what you need to know about taxes if you work from home.

4 Tips for Living Without Credit Cards
How to get in touch with exactly what you’re spending.

The Sorry State of Emergency Funds in America
Three out of eight Americans are on the brink of financial disaster.

How Proposed Net Neutrality Law Could Affect You
The access you’ve been paying for could soon be regulated.

Five Things You Need to Know About Taxes If You Work from Home
Finding your wake through the work from home tax maze.

Q&A: Surviving on Social Security Disability

Dear Liz: I’ve been on disability for over 10 years, and I currently receive $1,527 a month in Social Security Disability Insurance. My rent starting in March will be $1,400. I’m not opposed to moving, but after checking literally thousands of listings, I found that what I’m paying is not unusual for my area. I’m living on savings now. I’d like to have a job but am hard-pressed to find work. What should I do?

Answer: You don’t have to do anything if you have enough savings to last the rest of your life. Assuming that’s not the case, you need to do something to dramatically lower your cost of living.

You may qualify for housing assistance. You can use federal government sites such as Benefits.gov or HUD.gov to explore your options, or search for the name of your community and “rental assistance programs.”

You may discover that your low income is still too high for the available programs or that there’s a massive waiting list. If that’s the case, you still have options.
If your disabilities allow, you could earn low or even free rent by working as an apartment manager, a companion to an elderly person, a babysitter for a family with young children or a caretaker for a home or estate.

If your apartment is in a desirable area, you may be able to rent it out a few days a month on Airbnb, Homeaway or another vacation rental site to offset your cost. (Check with your landlord first.)

You could look for a roommate or other shared housing in your community, or consider moving to a less expensive area. You may need to move only a few miles to find a more affordable place, or you may have to consider transferring to a different city or state.

If you’re willing to be truly mobile, you could do what some retirees on limited incomes do and live full-time in a recreational vehicle. Some get jobs as camp hosts or other campground workers in exchange for a free site.

In general, you shouldn’t pay more than about 30% of your gross income for housing. Limiting your rent to 25% is even better, since it will give you more wiggle room to afford the rest of your life.

Q&A: Financial advice and family

Dear Liz: Regarding the brother who has the financially irresponsible sisters, in general I agree with you about not pestering people who don’t want advice. But with family, it’s different. It is quite obvious to me and other readers that this man is concerned about his sisters coming to him later in life even if he didn’t state that in his letter. Telling them he won’t help when they come to him later in life (and they will) isn’t realistic. Maybe his continual pestering will finally make them come to their senses.

Answer: If you’ve had any problems in your own life — you needed to lose a few pounds, say, or stop smoking — think about how you would have received the “continual pestering” of a sibling on the issue.

Announcing to his sisters that he won’t help them financially before they ask may have an unintended side effect. If Mom has any money left when she dies, she may well allocate more of it to the sisters under the assumption that they’ll “need” it more because their mean old brother won’t help them.

Q&A: Bonus taxing

Dear Liz: You recently answered a question from someone who wondered whether to pay off tax debt or credit cards with a $10,000 bonus. You asked why the person planned to put only about half the bonus toward debt instead of all of it. I think I know the answer. A bonus is considered taxable income, so someone in a high tax bracket likely would net only about half of the gross amount.

Answer: That’s a good point. Many people fail to factor in the tax bite when they get a windfall or cash in a retirement plan. The more money you make, the more painful that bite can be.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

155403-425x282-Mortgage-LateToday’s top story: What a missed mortgage payment can do to your credit. Also in the news: How to turn your retirement savings into income, tools that will simplify your life and save you money, and what we can learn about money from the movies.

How Much Will My Credit Score Drop If I Miss a Mortgage Payment?
A single missed payment can have a major impact.

What the Oscar Movies Can Teach Us About Money
Show me the money!

How To Turn Your Retirement Savings Into Retirement Income
What to do with your nest egg.

5 Tools That Will Help You Simplify – and Save
Removing temptation from your inbox.

Top 5 Tax Scams of 2015 to Avoid
Don’t fall into a trap.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

check-credit-report-easilyToday’s top story: How to remove a dispute from your credit report. Also in the news: Retirement expenses you shouldn’t neglect, how to protect your identity during tax time, and simple things you can do to save on your healthcare costs.

How Do I Get a Dispute Off My Credit Report?
Taking matters into your own hands.

Commonly Overlooked Retirement Expenses
Don’t forget these when planning your retirement budget.

How to Protect Your Identity This Tax Season
Keeping your information safe.

5 Simple Ways to Save on Your Health Care Costs
Staying physically and financially healthy.

3 new, must-read money books

College SavingsThree recently-published books are well worth your time and money, thanks to talented authors who offer new takes on some familiar financial topics: Social Security, raising money-smart kids and investor manias.

The first is “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security” by economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff and journalists Philip Moeller and Paul Solman. This book is a deep dive into Social Security claiming strategies, which may not sound sexy until you learn that people are costing themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars by making bad decisions about when and how to get their benefits. Larry is one of my go-to sources for Social Security questions, and his grasp of the intricacies of this complex system is amazing. Even more amazing is how readable this book is given those complexities.

The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money” by New York Times personal finance columnist Ron Lieber is one of the best books I’ve read about children and money. Ron aims his book at more affluent families–those with incomes over $50,000–but most of what he writes pertains to any American family that can buy its children everything they need and at least some of what they want. The chapters on what to tell your kids about how much you make and how to handle allowances are particularly thought-provoking.

The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute” by best-selling author and all-around wunderkind Zac Bissonnette. You don’t even have to be old enough to remember the Beanie Baby craze to enjoy this gossipy (but deeply researched) account of how so many people lost their minds–and not infrequently their savings–in a frenzy to corner the market on mass-produced stuffed animals. It’s not just collectors who should read this book. Any investor who wants to avoid being taken in by an unsustainable mania should take note. In fact, this book should be required reading for every high school personal finance course, although some of Beanie creator Ty Warner’s weirder proclivities might have to be edited out.

 

 

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

babytrollToday’s top story: What to do when your child’s data is hacked. Also in the news: How to hack your own money, credit card habits you need to break immediately, and how to hit your money goals.

My Baby’s Data Was Hacked. What Should I Do Now?
Like stealing credit from a baby.

Make Your Money Go Farther With ‘Hack Your Cash’
This time, you’re the hacker.

5 Bad Credit Card Habits to Break Now
Breaking them now will cost much down the road.

4 Ways to Hit Your Money Goals
Eye of the tiger.

Are These Retirement Issues Keeping You Up at Night?
The insomnia-causing retirement issues.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

file_161555_0_tax refundToday’s top story: What to do with your tax refund. Also in the news: Financial aid myths, how much you should contribute to your 401(k), and easy steps to get started with investing.

How to Put Your Tax Refund to Good Use
Alternatives to spending it on new stuff.

5 Myths About College Financial Aid
Financial aid mythbusting.

How Much Should You Contribute to Your 401(k)?
Even the smallest amounts can pay off in the long run.

6 Easy Steps to Get Started With Investing
Don’t be intimidated.

How Being Too Open About Money Can Backfire
TMMI – Too Much Money Information

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: The most important personal finance rules. Also in the news: How to hack away at your student loan debt, what couples need to know about their finances before moving in together, and how to prevent a tax audit.

The Most Important Personal Finance Rules Never Change
The rules that matter most are the ones that never change.

Hacking away at student loan debt
Chipping away at the albatross.

Moving in together? Read this first
Laying all the financial cards on the table.

25 Ways to Prevent a Tax Audit
How to avoid the excruciating experience.