Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The most common used car buying scams. Also in the news: Saving an extra $1,000 by Labor Day, how to keep “funemployment” from draining your savings, and the qualities you should look for in a financial adviser.

5 of the Most Common Used Car Buying Scams
Don’t get taken for a ride!

How To Save An Extra $1,000 By Labor Day
Just in time for the beginning of holiday shopping.

Keep Funemployment From Draining Your Bank Account
It’s only fun if you can afford it.

4 Qualities a Financial Adviser Ought to Have
A combination of Yoda and Warren Buffett.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

imagesToday’s top story: The money mistakes you make in your 40’s. Also in the news: What financial documents you should keep, what every college grad needs to know about money, and the important things you need to know about Social Security.

Money mistakes you make in your 40s
A crucial time for your financial future.

What financial documents to keep
What to keep and what to shred.

10 Things Every College Grad Needs To Know About Money
It’s a whole new world.

4 Important Things You Need to Know About Social Security
Finding your way through the maze.

Q&A: Debt collection

Dear Liz: I am trying to help my daughter deal with enormous student loans.

She is a doctor and very busy and simply cannot deal with the stress of almost $350,000 of education debt. I want to help her refinance, but to get the best rate I would like to help her improve her credit score (even if it is already 712).

She had three small debts turned over to a collection agency after a visit to an emergency room a couple of years ago. We plan to pay them off. Do I have to ask the collection agency to erase them or contact the original creditor?

Answer: You mention that your daughter has a 712 score, but she actually has many credit scores that change all the time. Small medical collections can have an outsize impact on those scores — or they can have no effect at all. It depends on what credit scoring formula the lender happens to use.

The latest version of the leading credit score, FICO 9, ignores paid collections and treats unpaid medical debt less harshly than other types of collection accounts. The most commonly used version, though, is FICO 8, which ignores only those collections under $100 and doesn’t differentiate medical from other collections.

Some lenders still use older versions of the formula that punish people for even small collections.

FICO also has a rival, the VantageScore. The latest and most-used version of that formula, VantageScore 3.0, also ignores paid collections.

You can contact the lenders you may use to refinance the debt to find out which scores they use, and which versions. That could help you decide how hard to push to get these collections erased.

If paid collections aren’t counted, you can just pay them off and be done with it. (You’ll of course want to keep the paperwork showing the debts have been paid and have your daughter check her credit reports to make sure the accounts reflect a zero balance.)

If the accounts could hurt her even if they’re paid, you have a couple of options.

One is to ask the hospital to take back the accounts, since medical bills are often placed with collection agencies on consignment rather than being sold to them outright. Then you can pay the hospital, and the collections should disappear. (Although, again, your daughter will need to follow up to make sure.)

Another option is to try to negotiate a “pay for deletion” — which means the collection agency promises to stop reporting the account in return for payment. You’ll want this agreement, if you can win it, to be in advance and in writing.

Q&A: IRS direct pay

Dear Liz: Regarding the reader whose tax payment never made it to the IRS: I agree that electronic payments are the best and safest, but you might want to emphasize that the payments should be done directly through the IRS website.

I made the mistake of scheduling a couple of payments through my online banking, and a month later I received a notification from the IRS that I was in arrears, although the bank statement indicated that the payment has been debited.

It took several months of correspondence before the IRS acknowledged that the money was received. Luckily, the penalties and interest were only about $20, so I didn’t have to go through the additional hassle and filling out forms to reclaim it. The IRS website is very easy to use, and I haven’t experienced any problems since.

Answer: The IRS’ Electronic Tax Payment System, which was designed primarily for businesses, has been around for nearly two decades, but the agency only recently added a “Direct Pay” option expressly for individuals to make estimated tax payments and pay bills.

These methods and others, including electronic funds withdrawal when you e-file your return, are explained at http://www.irs.gov/payments.

Q&A: Electronic Federal Tax Payment System

Dear Liz: I’m often required to make estimated quarterly payments and was always concerned I would miss one of them.

A few years ago, I came across the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) that is offered by the U.S. Treasury. The beauty of the system is that once it is set up, there is nothing more for me to do. I set up all the payments I need to make and the system takes care of it.

I just have to set it up each year at the time I file my tax return. I have been using the system for several years and have had no issues whatsoever with it.

Answer: Thanks for sharing your experience with EFTPS. While that system allows you to schedule payments up to 365 days in advance, the Direct Pay option for individuals allows scheduling only up to 30 days in advance.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Hand with money and toy car isolated on white background

Hand with money and toy car isolated on white background

Today’s top story: Why you need to pay close attention to your car insurance. Also in the news: Supreme Court ruling makes finances easier for same-sex couples, financial resources for active military, and when it’s okay to take a hit on your credit score.

4 Ways Being Forgetful Can Raise Your Car Insurance Rates
Set reminders.

Marriage Ruling Ends Personal-Finance Confusion for Gay Couples
Taxes just became a lot less complicated.

4 Financial Resources for Active Military
Managing your money while away from home.

3 Times It’s OK to Let Your Credit Score Take a Hit
A credit score hit isn’t always a bad thing.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Why applying for a credit card can hurt your credit score. Also in the news: Things on your credit report that might scare off lenders, why couples don’t talk enough about retirement planning, and when is the right time to consider annuities.

Here’s Why Applying for a Credit Card Hurts Your Credit Score
You may want to think twice before applying.

5 Things on Your Credit Report That Might Scare a Lender
Things to watch out for.

Study: Couples Don’t Talk Enough About Retirement Plans
Huge mistake.

When to Consider Annuities If You Want to Safeguard Your Retirement
Making the right decision.

Your financial advisor: just a car salesman?

Retro Car Salesman C

Is this your financial advisor?

Wall Street is trying to prevent new rules that would require financial advisors to put your interests ahead of their own. Big brokerage firms have said they simply won’t serve the middle class if they can’t offer conflicted advice to them. Even more telling, MetLife Inc. CEO Steven Kandarin recently used a car salesman analogy that compares financial advisors to Ford and Chevy dealerships. Car salesman aren’t required to point out the better deal across the street, Kandarin asked, so why should financial advisors?

If you think the people advising you about your life savings should only be held to the standards of car salesmen, then do nothing. If you think they should be held to a higher standard, contact your Congressional representatives now:

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/US-Congress.shtml

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Protecting yourself from identity theft. Also in the news: Unforeseen circumstances that could crush your retirement, what not to do when you pay off your mortgage, and the importance of an emergency fund.

Are You a Prime Target for Identity Theft?
How to protect yourself.

3 retirement-crushing unforeseen circumstancesWhen your retirement does go as planned.

Don’t Make This Mistake When You Pay Off Your Mortgage
It could end up costing you a lot of money.

1 in 3 Americans Does Not Have an Emergency Fund
Are you one of them?

Take Advantage of the “Direct Debit” Student Loan Discount
Every penny counts.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

downloadToday’s top story: How to cut the cord to your TV and save money. Also in the news: Apps to teach kids about personal finance, how to handle your credit card debt while you’re unemployed, and what happens to your debt if you get divorced.

How to watch TV for next to nothing
Cutting the cord can save you big bucks.

7 Apps to Teach Your Kids Personal Finance Skills
Trick them into learning!

How to Handle Credit Card Debt While You’re Unemployed
You cannot ignore it.

What Happens to My Debt If I Get a Divorce?
What does and doesn’t stay with you.

Calculate the Opportunity Cost of Your Spending Habit Over Time
Just how much is that daily muffin costing you?