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payday-loansToday’s top story: The dangerous trap of online payday loans. Also in the news: How to erase your credit card late fees, the best way to ask for a raise, and how to survive financially when needing time off from work.

Consumers Warned About Pitfalls of Online Payday Loans
An immediate solution can cause long term problems.

Your Personal Finance Weapon Is Within Reach: Erase Credit Card Late Fees
Banks are showing more willingness to forgive.

The best way to ask for a raise
Practice, practice, practice.

3 Ways to Take Time Off Work Without Destroying Your Finances
How to minimize the financial damage.

J.P. Morgan says about 76 million households affected by cyber breach
Another day, another massive security breach.

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News you can use for retirement

Oct 02, 2014 | | Comments (0)

seniorslaptopReuters news service has posted its “Retirement Roadmap 2014,” a collection of good advice on topics that don’t get as much attention as they should. My favorite of the bunch is Beth Pinsker’s piece on choosing a rehab facility after surgery, either for yourself or a parent. It’s not a sexy topic, but if you’ve ever been in this situation you realize how little information is out there to help you choose well. Another important topic is choosing a new Medicare plan, since open enrollment is coming up and most people just stick with what they have–not realizing they’re paying more than they should.  This would be a great article to pass along to anyone you know who’s 65 or over.

And then, for fun, read about a couple who sold their house to travel the world…and dream a little.

Here are the links you’ll need:

Video: Guide to Healthcare Costs
From Medicare to long-term care to health savings accounts. We explore the options – and the possibilities – in episode one of our 12-part series.

Stern Advice: Should you tap your 401(k)to buy a house?

Why it pays to pore over your Medicare drug plan – every year

How to choose the best rehab facility after a hospital stay

It happens: Seniors with student debt – and smaller Social Security checks

Extreme retirement abroad: How one footloose couple sees the world

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download (1)Today’s top story: How to boost your credit score by rearranging your debt. Also in the news: Why borrowing from your 401(k) is a bad idea, how long you need to keep your tax records, and you still have time to cut this year’s tax bill.

Can Rearranging My Debt Boost My Credit Score?
Playing the credit card shuffle.

Borrowing from 401(k) can cost more than you think
Your monthly retirement income could be reduced by hundreds.

How Long Should I Keep My Tax Records?
This time, being a pack rat can pay off.

You may still be able to cut last year’s tax bill
But you better act fast.

What Twenty-Somethings Need To Know About Retirement And Social Security
The sooner you start saving, the better off you’ll be.

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homebuyerToday’s top story: How to help a family member buy a house. Also in the news: Personal finance mythbusting, easy ways for retirees to cut spending, and how to get good financial advice for free.

The Right Way to Help a Family Member Buy a Home
Making the process easier for both of you.

Why These 4 Personal Finance Myths Perpetuate Money Problems
Some long overdue mythbusting.

Retirees: 9 easy ways to cut spending
How to painlessly reduce your spending.

How You Can Get Good Financial Advice for Free
Take advantage of free Certified Financial Planner days.

Keep Track of Your Hourly Wage, Even If You’re Salaried
Your time is as valuable as your money.

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-Autumn-autumn-32497070-800-600Today’s top story: The best money moves you can make for the end of the year. Also in the news: How to protect yourself from the next massive security flaw, hackers hit one of the country’s largest grocery store chains, and how to manage your finances when faced with cancer.

The Next Massive Security Flaw You Should Worry About: Bash
Time to check your router.

The Best Money Moves for Autumn
Preparing your budget for the end of the year.

Another card system hack at Supervalu, Albertsons
Keep an eye on your accounts if you’ve shopped at these store.

Despite insurance, 1 in 3 cancer survivors incur $10,000+ debt
What you can do when facing a serious diagnosis.

How Financially Secure Are You?
Could you survive an unexpected emergency?

Categories : Liz's Blog
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Q&A: Saving loose change

Sep 29, 2014 | | Comments (1)

Dear Liz: My husband recently told me that he has saved many coffee cans full of loose change over the years. When I suggested we might at least roll the change to make it easier to count should we ever need it, he was not interested! I understand he just wants it available in an emergency, but just the transportation of these things to a coin counter (that may or may not be available) makes me want to find a better way to honor his idea of saving change in a more realistic way. Perhaps roll while watching TV, then ask a bank to convert to dollar coins as a way to reduce the bulk?

Answer: It’s hard to imagine how your husband expects to deploy those coins in an emergency. Does he envision lugging them to the grocery store or gas station? Does he imagine any retailer would accept a coffee can of change as payment? Many retailers won’t even accept rolled coins, since they don’t know what’s inside those wrappers.

Converting the coins into bills, or better yet to savings in a bank, is a far more practical option. You can use commercial coin sorters, but they typically take a hefty cut. Coinstar, for example, charges a 10.9% service fee, although that is waived if you choose to be paid with a retailer’s gift card or voucher.

Another place to check is your bank. Some have coin sorters available to customers, although you may have to deposit the result rather than take it immediately in cash.

Alternatively, your bank may supply you with wrappers — or it may not accept change at all. The only way to know is to call and ask.

If you do decide to roll the change, consider making a small investment in a coin sorter. You can spend $200 or more on a commercial version, but there are well-reviewed versions on Amazon that cost around $25.

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Dear Liz: I’ve been reading your answers to Social Security questions, but they do not address my situation, which is extremely unconventional. I was a quasi-widow at 31 with three children under age 9. My husband was institutionalized because of an accident when he was 33. He died 23 years later, having outlived all his insurance. I never remarried. I was disabled at 61 and started receiving my deceased husband’s Social Security benefit at age 62, after the expiration of my disability benefits from work. I am now 73. Am I eligible to also begin receiving my own Social Security benefits as well as my late husband’s? I hope your answer is positive.

Answer: It’s not. Although the details may not be conventional, your situation doesn’t change the fact that widows (and widowers) are entitled to only one check. They can’t collect their own benefits plus survivor’s benefits. They can and should, however, choose the larger of the checks to which they’re entitled.

It is possible that you’ve earned a larger benefit on your own work record than the survivor’s benefit you’re currently receiving. You should call Social Security at (800) 772-1213 and ask.

Categories : Q&A, Retirement
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Q&A: Forgiving credit card debt

Sep 29, 2014 | | Comments (0)

Dear Liz: Recently you wrote about debt being forgiven after seven years, but in your book “Deal With Your Debt,” I’m sure you said after four years credit-card debt is usually not collectible. Could you clarify? When I tell debt collectors about this, they merely laugh.

Answer: That’s understandable, because there is no forgiveness for most debt. It’s legally owed until it’s paid, settled or wiped out in Bankruptcy Court.

Each state sets limits on how long a creditor has to sue a borrower over an unpaid debt. Those limits vary by state and the type of debt. In California, credit card debt has a four-year statute of limitations. Creditors may continue collection efforts after four years; they’re just not supposed to file lawsuits.

Seven years is how long most negative marks, such as unpaid debts, can remain on your credit reports. Technically, most unpaid debts are supposed to be removed seven years and 180 days after the account first went delinquent.

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Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to protect yourself from credit card breaches. Also in the news: The best ways to pay for college, how to avoid year-round tax scams, and what happens to your debt after you die.

Shelter yourself from payment card breaches
How to protect both your finances and your identity while shopping.

The Best Ways to Pay for Your Child’s College Education
How to combat the rising cost of a college education.

Tax-related scams don’t hit just during tax season
Beware of these year-round scams targeting your taxes.

Who Will Inherit Your Debt When You Die?
One thing you don’t want to leave behind.

Why These 4 Personal Finance Myths Perpetuate Money Problems
Monday mythbusting.

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watchdogPeople remember where they were when they heard about big historical events, like the planes flying into the World Trade Center buildings. Finance geeks remember where they were in September 2008 when they heard that the Prime Reserve Fund had “broken the buck.” A money market fund’s share price had just dropped below $1 for the first time, and this was a huge deal. Money market funds were supposed to be safe–I almost said “safe as houses,” but given the subsequent real estate recession, maybe not. Anyway, it wasn’t hard to envision this news triggering a Depression-era run on the funds where individuals and institutions stored trillions of dollars of cash. The funds wouldn’t be able to meet all the demands for withdrawals and the banking system would grind to a halt. From there, the collapse of the whole financial system would no longer be a fantasy of end-of-the-world preppers. Of all the bad news that fall–and there was a ton–that’s the story that really made it clear how close we were to the brink.

We avoided the worst, but our close call should have put every financial regulator on his or her toes. Unfortunately, secret recordings made by a now-fired Fed attorney make it clear that watchdogs are instead cuddled in the arms of the financial institutions they’re supposed to regulate. This is a gigantic story, one that financial author Michael Lewis calls “The Ray Rice video for the financial sector.”

Listen to the This American Life podcast here, and read ProPublica’s story here.  This is news you really need to know.

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