Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

2Today’s top story: 4 steps to managing your parents’ bank accounts. Also in the news: How banks boost overdrafts by counting big debits first, how to determine whether to pay down debt or save for retirement, and mistakes to avoid when choosing a financial advisor.

4 Steps to Managing Your Parents’ Bank Accounts
Taking the reins.

Many Banks Boost Overdrafts by Counting Big Debits First, Report Says
Putting transcations in a certain order can guarantee overdraft fees.

This Calculator Will Tell You Whether to Pay Down Debt or Save for Retirement
Which should you choose?

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Picking a Financial Advisor
Selecting the right one for your needs.

How 3 People Changed Their Financial Lives

Lauren Greutman’s moment of truth dawned when she sneaked $600 worth of clothes into her closet. She didn’t want her husband to see what she had bought — or to know that they were $40,000 in debt.

J.D. Roth hit bottom after buying a home he thought he could afford

Zina Kumok’s epiphany came when she saw her student loan payment eating 20 percent of her paychecks.

The catalysts were different, but the reactions of these three people in different parts of the U.S. were the same. Years of incurring debt made them realize that they couldn’t continue to spend like before.

In my latest for the Associated Press, learn how these three people changed their financial lives.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

teen-creditToday’s top story: How to safely shop online. Also in the news: The top financial complaints by state, how to lower your tax bill before the end of the year, and 5 ways car ads lie to you.

How to Safely Shop Online
Protect yourself from cyber theft.

Study: The Top Financial Complaints by State in 2016
What’s going on in yours?

How to Lower Your Tax Bill Before Year’s End
There’s still time!

5 ways that car ads lie to you
Don’t get duped.

Book Giveaway: Smart Mom Rich Mom by Kimberly Palmer

smartmomrichmom1I’m giving away a copy of Kimberly Palmer’s Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family.

Of all life’s financial shocks, few compare to bringing home an infant. Just one tiny person costs $250,000 to raise– not including college!

How will you pay for it? That agonizing question fuels mothers’ choices about their careers, budgets, and families. Some lean in, some scale back or seek new opportunities–there are no easy answers . . . but lots of rewarding possibilities.

Smart Mom, Rich Mom explores how women today are navigating the financially challenging career/parenting years. Written by a national money columnist and mom of two, the book chronicles people who have stayed in the game–full-time, freelance, self-employed, and more–and emerged more prosperous and empowered.

To enter to win, leave a comment here on my blog (not my Facebook page). Make sure to include your email address, which won’t show up with your comment, but I’ll be able to see it. Comments are moderated, so it may take a little while for your comment to show up.

The winners will be chosen at random Friday night. 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.

Also, check back here often for other giveaways.

The deadline to enter is midnight Pacific time on Friday. So–comment away!

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Advice from people who paid off student loans. Also in the news: How to turn a bad day into a tax break, why Austin, Texas is the best city for job seekers, and the bank account score agencies you’ve never heard of.

Advice From 3 People Who Paid Off Student Loan DebtTips from the experts.

How to Turn a Bad Day Into a Tax Break
Looking for the silver lining.

Study: Austin, Texas, Is the Best City for Job Seekers in 2017
Head to the Lone Star State.

The bank account scoring agencies you’ve never heard of
ChexSystem and Early Warning Services.

Q&A: Don’t bequeath trouble to your descendants

Dear Liz: I have two grown children, neither of whom owns a home, and three grandchildren. I would very much like to keep my house in the family for all to use, if and when needed. It is not large, and it would be somewhat difficult for two families to live here at the same time. I have a trust that splits everything between the two children. I also have handwritten a note and had it notarized explaining I would like the house kept in the family and not sold or mortgaged. Can you advise me?

Answer: Please think long and hard before you try to restrict what the next generation does with a bequest, particularly when it’s real estate. Is your desire to keep the house in the family worth causing rifts in that family?

It would be hard for two families to share even a large home. You could be setting up epic battles, not only over who gets to live there but how much is spent to maintain, repair and update the home. It’s difficult enough for married couples to own property together; siblings are almost certain to disagree about how much to spend and the differences may be even greater if only one family is actually using the house.

If your house is sold, on the other hand, it could provide nice down payments for each family to buy its own home. Alternatively, one family could get a mortgage to buy out the other and live in the house. Or the home could be mortgaged to provide two down payments and then rented out. Your notarized note wouldn’t prevent your children from doing any of these things, but it may cause them unnecessary guilt and disagreements about honoring those wishes.

Q&A: Claiming an adult child as a dependent

Dear Liz: I am paying rent for my adult son in another state. He gets occasional help from various services, but if I don’t want him to sleep on the street, I have to pay his rent and send some emergency food. I don’t see this changing. Can I claim him as a dependent or would that make me responsible for his health insurance, which I cannot afford?

Answer: Yes, you would be responsible for your son’s health insurance coverage if you claimed him as a dependent, said Carolyn McClanahan, a certified financial planner with Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Fla. That would mean either paying for coverage or paying the fine for not having coverage. The fine for 2016 is $695 per adult or 2.5% of your household adjusted gross income, whichever is greater. The penalty is capped at $2,085, which is likely much more than what you’d save with an additional exemption. If you’re in the 25% tax bracket, a $4,050 personal exemption is worth a little over $1,000.

The IRS has many rules about dependents, and standards for claiming adult children are much higher when they’re over 19 (or over 24 for full-time students). To qualify, your son would have to earn less than the amount of the personal exemption ($4,050 in 2016) and you must have provided more than half of his support, among other rules. The IRS has an interactive tool to help people determine dependents’ eligibility at https://www.irs.gov/uac/who-can-i-claim-as-a-dependent.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

interest-rates-300x225Today’s top story: 7 questions and answers about the fed rate hike. Also in the news: How to avoid the Social Security tax bubble, how the fed rate hike could affect your student loans, and how not to be tricked by retailers’ “regular prices.”

Fed Rate Hike: 7 Questions (and Answers)
What you need to know.

How to Avoid the Social Security ‘Tax Bubble’
Know how and when Social Security benefits are taxed.

Fed Rate Hike: What It Means for Student Loans
How your loans might be affected.

Don’t Be Tricked by Retailers’ Unreal Regular Prices
Don’t fall for the bait-and-switch.

Let’s be careful out there

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailIt’s going to be a zoo at the stores the next couple of days, the last full weekend before Christmas (next Sunday) and Hanukkah (which starts the night before). Plus, today is the last day for ground delivery from UPS and FedEx deliveries if you want your packages to arrive by Christmas.

If you feel like the shopping season is shorter this year, you’re not alone. The Wall Street Journal says the election kept people distracted and more retailers put off promotions until closer to Thanksgiving.

The crush of stressed, rushing people can lead to all kinds of financial fallout, from overspending inside the stores to fender-benders outside them. Some things to keep in mind if you’re venturing out:

Make that list before you go. So basic and so easy to forget. Specify who you’re buying for, and the budget. Put it on your phone, tattoo it on your forehead, whatever it takes.

Use a credit card (or two). Many credit cards offer protection if your purchases are stolen or damaged. Some double manufacturers’ warranties, and all can serve as a middleman if you have a dispute with a merchant. Just don’t use cards as an excuse to go wild–credit card balances should be paid in full. (One reader treats his credit cards as prepaid cards by sending an extra payment in advance to cover his holiday shopping.)

Maximize your rewards. Using the right card at the right venue can boost your rewards. If you have a card with changing bonus categories, know what those are before you leave home. Chase Freedom, for example, is offering 5 percent cash back on wholesale clubs (including Costco and Sam’s), department stores and drugstores. Discover It has a 5 percent cash bonus on department stores and Amazon. Many cards have ongoing bonuses for certain purchases, such as gas or dining out. NerdWallet has other tips on maximizing your rewards.

Go early. Getting there when the doors open may give you a few moments of less-crowded shopping.

Keep your phone handy. Check prices on the fly. Resist the urge to snap up extra “bargains” that might not be. But:

Watch out for fake shopping apps. Yup, they’re a thing, even in the supposedly-safer Apple App store. These apps can steal your credit card and personal information. Go to the retailer’s site and use the links there to download its mobile app.

Hide it, lock it, keep it. Don’t leave your purchases in plain sight in your car and try to avoid parking in dimly-lit or poorly trafficked areas.

Beware in-store pickup. It sounds great: shop online, pick it up in the store. Except when it doesn’t work, which can be often, since many stores’ inventory tracking isn’t all it could be and they may not have enough staff to get your stuff off the shelf. (Target stores in my area can’t seem to consistently fulfill in-store pickup orders even with normal traffic.) Have a plan B in case your order gets canceled or never fulfilled.

And speaking of Plan Bs:

There’s always Amazon. The online chain is offering one- and two-hour delivery all the way through midnight on Christmas Eve with its Prime Now service.

 

 

 

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

images-2Today’s top story: NerdWallet’s 2016 American Household Credit Card Debt Study. Also in the news: The best places in American for first-time homebuyers, why Christmas loans are the coal in your financial stocking, and the best free online courses to help with your finances.

2016 American Household Credit Card Debt Study
Creeping back up.

Best Places in America for First-Time Homebuyers
Where you should be looking.

Christmas Loans: The Coal in Your Financial Stocking
Bah humbug.

The Best Free Online Courses to Help With Your Finances
It doesn’t get better than free!