Thursday’s need-to-know money news

scamToday’s top story: Last-minute tax filers need to watch out for an Obamacare scam. Also in the news: Paying to check your credit, how to delay taking Social Security, and retirement planning tips for women.

Last-Minute Tax Filers: Beware of This Obamacare Scam
Scammers are taking advantage of Obamacare tax penalties.

Should I Pay To Check My Credit Score?
The pros and cons of free credit reports.

3 Ways to Delay Taking Social Security
A delay could be financially advantageous.

Key Retirement Concerns And 7 Planning Tips For Women
What women need to know to prepare.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

635522783074355959-holiday-cardsToday’s top story: Finding the best credit monitoring service. Also in the news: The best move to make at tax time, how to get the best financial aid package, and how to keep your digital transactions safe.

How to Compare Free Credit Monitoring Offers
With credit theft becoming a near daily occurrence, it’s important to keep an eye on yours.

The Single Best Move to Make At Tax Time
Time to beef up your emergency fund.

4 insider tips to get the best financial aid package
How to make paying for college less traumatic.

5 Ways to Protect Your Digital Wallet
Keeping your online transactions safe.

How to Live Richly When You’re Feeling Broke
Cutting costs without cutting your favorites.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

credit-cardsToday’s top story: The pros and cons of paying your taxes with a credit card. Also in the news: Discharging private student loans, financial rules for 40 year-olds, and what FICO’s new credit score means for you.

Should You Pay Your Taxes With a Credit Card?
The pros and cons.

Can You Discharge Private Student Loans in Bankruptcy?
It won’t be easy.

40 Financial Rules For 40 Year-Olds
It’s time to get serious.

FICO Will Use a New Credit Score That Includes Your Bill Payments
What this means for your score.

Smart Ways to Trim Your Water Bill This Spring
Gardening season is nearly upon us.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to make saving for retirement less miserable. Also in the news: The best type of financial plan, refinancing your student loans, and four ways to cut the cost of life insurance.

How to Take the Misery Out of Saving for Retirement
It doesn’t have to be painful.

The Best Financial Plan is the One That Motivates You to Take Action
Motivation could be the key to success.

How to Decide If You Should Refinance Your Student Loans
Navigating the murky waters of refinancing.

4 Ways to Cut the Cost of Life Insurance
Don’t pay more than you have to.

Q&A: Social Security and Divorce

Dear Liz: Can my 63-year-old ex-husband, who was a slacker who never worked, collect on my Social Security? I am 59 and happily remarried. He hasn’t remarried. We were married for 25 years before I left him.

Answer: Since you were married for more than 10 years, your former husband can apply for spousal benefits based on your work record. He can’t do so, however, until you’re old enough to get retirement benefits, which means he has to wait another three years until you’re 62. If you were still married, he would have to wait until you actually applied for your own retirement benefits to get a spousal benefit. That requirement is waived for divorced spouses to keep a vengeful ex from deliberately withholding the right to benefits. His ability to claim spousal benefits on your work record would end if he remarried.
Any spousal checks he gets won’t affect or reduce your benefit or any benefits claimed by your current spouse. Should you die first, both your current and your former husbands could claim survivors’ benefits — again, without affecting each other’s checks

Q&A: Credit card interest rates

Dear Liz: I have had a certain credit card for over five years. I just received a letter stating that my interest rate was going to be raised from 10.24% to 12.24%. My FICO score is 819 and I have never had late payments on any of my cards. I called the issuer to complain about this change but they will not reduce the rate. The letter states that they obtained my FICO score of 819 from Experian and used the score to make the decision to raise my APR. They told me that they are raising rates across the board for customers with FICO scores over 800. Why are credit card companies allowed to do this? It is so unfair.

Answer: Credit card companies are no longer allowed to raise interest rates arbitrarily on individuals’ existing balances, as they could — and often did — before the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009. Now card issuers are allowed to raise your interest rate on an existing balance only if you’re 60 days or more late with your payment, a promotional rate has expired or the index to which a variable-rate card is linked has gone up.

Credit card companies can, however, raise your interest rate going forward for pretty much any reason they want, and new balances will accrue at the higher rate. Also, the CARD Act’s restrictions apply only to consumer credit cards; business credit cards aren’t covered by the law.

Changeable rates are just one of the reasons why it’s not smart to carry credit card balances. Since you have high credit scores, though, it should be easy for you to find another card with a low promotional rate. Some cards now offer a 0% rate for 12, 15 or 18 months, although you’ll typically pay a balance transfer fee of around 3%. Sites such as CreditCards.com, NerdWallet and LowCards.com, among others, list these competitive offers.

Once you get the new card, you should work to pay off the entire balance before the promotional rate expires.

Q&A: Early withdrawal penalties on CDs

Dear Liz: You told a reader to be suspicious of a bank’s offer to waive early withdrawal penalties on a certificate of deposit. But several credit unions allow early withdrawals from five-year CDs after the account holder turns 59 1/2. These credit unions will even allow you to get higher-interest CDs at other credit unions with no penalty after 59 1/2 . My husband and I and sister did this for many years until just a few years ago. I even do Roth conversions every year and take money from five-year CDs with no penalty and go to the place with the highest interest rate. There are many rewards and unexpected privileges at credit unions. When my husband passed and I disclaimed his traditional IRAs, the children were allowed to keep the 6% interest on those CDs until they matured, even after they were changed to inherited IRAs.

Answer: Credit unions, which are owned by their members, often have better rates and terms than banks, although some banks also offer to waive early withdrawal penalties after 591/2 on certain CDs.

But no one should rely on a verbal assurance that a fee will be waived. The offer to waive the fee should be in writing and kept with other financial documentation.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to protect your Social Security number from identity thieves. Also in the news: How to conquer your student debt, the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and tax tips from the experts.

3 Ways to Protect Your Social Security Number From ID Theft
Think of your Social Security number as the combination to a safe.

Four New Ways To Conquer Student Debt
You can do it!

Earned Income Tax Credit Could Pay Off
If you didn’t make a significant amount of money last year, this tax credit could come in handy.

Countdown to Tax Day: WalletHub’s 2015 Expert Tips
Only twelve days left to go!

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Big changes are coming to your FICO score. Also in the news: Lessons learned from selling a house, building a financial dashboard, and how much you should really set aside for retirement.

New FICO Score Factors in Utilities & How Often You Move
Changes are coming to your credit score.

Lessons Learned from Selling My First House
How to get through the selling process unscathed.

How to Build a Financial Dashboard
Putting all of your financial goals in one place.

How Much Should You Really Set Aside for Retirement?
Finding your magic number.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

22856641_SAToday’s top story: What you need to know about IRA conversions and college financial aid. Also in the news: Avoiding costly tax mistakes, tips for buying a home when you’re in debt, and five things you didn’t know about a 529 plan.

Roth IRA Conversions And College Aid: Timing Is Everything
How a conversion could affect your child’s financial aid eligibility.

Ten Tax Tips to Avoid Costly Mistakes
Pay close attention to detail.

2 Strategies for Buying a Home When You’re in Debt
The important questions you need to ask yourself.

5 Secrets You Didn’t Know About A 529 Plan
The sooner you begin saving, the better.

How TransUnion’s IPO Could Affect Your Credit Score
What going public could mean for you.