Today’s top story: How to reduce your energy bill by killing off “energy vampires.” Also in the news: Tips on lowering your teen’s car insurance, hazards every student loan borrower should know, and what 2015’s retirement fund contribution limits will be.
This Tool Calculates How much You Pay for “Energy Vampires”
Driving a stake through your energy bill.
6 Tips to Lower the Cost of Your Teen’s Car Insurance
Unfortunately, they won’t lower your blood pressure.
6 Hazards Every Student Loan Borrower Should Beware Of
Don’t set yourself up for failure.
IRS Announces 2015 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits For 401(k)s And More
Find out what changes are in store.
The Best Day to Buy Airline Tickets
Start strategizing for holiday travel.
Today’s top story: The best low interest credit cards in America. Also in the news: How to have the money talk with your new significant other, why a new IRS rule could change your 401(k) contributions, and how to choose investments for your retirement account.
The Best Low-Interest Credit Cards in America 2014
The lower the better.
How To Bare Your Finances To Your New Love
Tips on having The Talk.
New IRS Rule Can Make Big Difference in 401(k) Contributions
Understanding the new rules.
How To Choose Investments For Your Retirement Account
Choosing for the future.
15 Personal Finance Experts Tell Us: ‘The Best Thing I Ever Bought for $20 or Less’
What to do with the twenty that’s burning a hole in your pocket.
Five Life Insurance Mistakes That Can Haunt You
These mistakes can be costly for both you and your loved ones.
Remember, Some Gifts Are Taxed
The gifts that keep on giving (and taking).
A Simple Tool for Getting Better Financial Advice
It’s about more than just your money.
7 Credit Card Strategies to Help Your Credit
Using your cards to give your credit a boost.
4 Great Ideas from Hanging Around with Financial Bloggers
Tips from those in the know.
Today’s top story: How Americans sabotage their savings. Also in the news: Ways you can make your children’s college dreams come true, the best credit cards for holiday shopping, and the multitude of ways you can get a free copy of your credit score.
5 Ways Americans Sabotage Their Savings
Stop doing them.
The Simple Path to Making Your Children’s College Dreams Come True
3 Best credit cards this holiday season
The Many Ways You Can Get a Free Copy of Your Credit Score
You have no excuse not to get one.
Babies born today get free $500 mutual fund investment
One day only!
Dear Liz: I have a rather ugly student loan predicament. You mentioned “the possibility of forgiveness” in a recent column. I feel very strongly that I am deserving (if I dare use that word) of partial or full forgiveness of my undergraduate loans, although the loans from my graduate studies sting quite a bit too. I am not sure whom to contact to tell my story. Do I ask my lender, or do I contact the federal government education department? I get beyond frustrated talking to my lender, as they have employees who can only read from a script and can never help with particular issues.
Answer: You don’t win federal student loan forgiveness with an effective sob story. You get it by volunteering, working in a high-need area or following the relatively new rules for erasing remaining balances after many years of on-time payments. You also can get your federal (but not necessarily private) loans discharged if you’re totally and permanently disabled, you die or your school closes before you get your degree.
FinAid.org maintains a list of some of the forgiveness and stipend options available. People who teach full time in low-income districts, for example, can have up to $17,500 of their Stafford or PLUS loans forgiven under the National Defense Education Act. Forgiveness options exist for health workers and attorneys who serve high-need areas. Students in the Army National Guard may be eligible for its repayment program, which offers up to $10,000 for repaying student loans. AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps and Vista also have stipend programs for student debt repayment.
In addition, the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program promises any remaining federal student loan balances can be erased after 10 years of payments. Eligible public service jobs include employment with federal, state or local governments or not-for-profit organizations designated as tax-exempt by the IRS. You can find more information about this program at the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid site.
Even if you work in the private sector, you can qualify for forgiveness after 20 to 25 years of on-time payments, depending on when you incurred the debt. Again, see the education department’s site for details.
If you’re finding your payments onerous, you may qualify for the “Pay as You Earn” or other federal income-based repayment plans. If you have private student loans, though, you have far fewer options and consumer protections. You may want to visit the Student Loan Borrower Assistance site run by the National Consumer Law Center to learn more about strategies for coping with this debt.
Dear Liz: I just had to giggle at the husband who wanted to save his coin change for an emergency. Yes, this seems so silly now, but back in the day prior to debit cards my mom started saving all her loose change in a coffee can when my husband and I got engaged. Ten months later, she had saved enough for my wedding dress! When we had our first child, we started saving all our loose change, and 10 years later, we had saved enough for a trip to Disneyland. Obviously, we are saving less and less change since we so seldom use cash anymore, but we still keep a coffee cup to collect the loose change and still manage to turn in about $100 a year to the bank.
Answer: The key is to regularly deposit the coins, rather than letting them pile up. But a few readers cautioned that it might be worth carefully sorting through older stashes of coins:
Dear Liz: You gave a good answer to the question about cans of coins. You also should advise the party that if the cans have older coins — pre-1965 — the value of those dimes, quarters and half-dollar coins is tied directly to the price of silver. At $20 per ounce, 90% silver coins are worth about fourteen times their face value. A dime would be worth about $1.40, a quarter about $3.50, and a half-dollar about $6. At the same silver price of $20, 40% silver half-dollars are worth about $2.50 each. If you use a commercial sorting service you will lose the value of these coins. If you sort them while watching TV as I do, you will recover it. Lastly, if you do roll the coins, return them to the bank immediately. If your house is burglarized, as mine was, the rolls of coins on your desk will be gone in an instant.
Answer: Ouch. Sorry for your loss. You aren’t the only one to find gold (or rather silver) in your coins:
Dear Liz: I inherited much loose change. I started going through it and found a nice can of Buffalo nickels (each worth more than a nickel) and 22 pounds of silver quarters (made before the sandwich coins) worth $7,744 less handling and processing fees. It still came to a tidy sum. Let your letter writer know that it may pay to sort through that mountain of loose change.
Today’s top story: Why couples should consider keeping some of their finances separate. Also in the news: Ten ways to give your credit score a boost, six ways to save $1000 by the end of the year, and what the financial world could look like in 2019.
Why Couples Shouldn’t Merge All Their Finances
The benefits of financial autonomy.
10Best: Ways to improve your credit score
Easy steps that could give your score a boost.
The 2019 Forecast: Way More Millionaires, Way More Inequality
What will the financial world look like five years from now?
6 ways to save $1,000 by the end of the year
It can be done!
How much should you tip housekeeping? A travel tipping guide
Unraveling the mysteries of tipping while traveling.
Today’s top story: The everyday things that are hurting your credit. Also in the news: Whipping your 401(k) into shape, how to cope with low interest rates, and the ten best places to retire on Social Security alone.
5 Everyday Things That Hurt Your Credit
Your furry best friend could be trouble.
How to Whip Your 401(k) Into Shape
Unlocking your 401(k)’s full potential.
4 Strategies for Coping with Low Interest Rates
Counteract low interest rates by avoiding risky investments.
10 Best Places to Retire on Social Security Alone
The locations may surprise you.
8 secrets to building a budget you can live with
Budgeting doesn’t have to be painful.