Today’s top story: How to save big on your mortgage when buying your first home. Also in the news: Why extended warranties may not save you money, three reasons not to raid your retirement account, and breaking bad financial habits.
How First-Time Homebuyers Can Save Big on Their Mortgage
Thanks to the FHA.
Extended warranties may not save you money
Read the fine print.
3 Reasons Not to Raid Your Retirement Accounts
Fees and lost interest should deter you.
9 Bad Financial Habits You Need to Break Right Now
Starting with doing the same thing over and over again.
Use the Ladder Method to Make Investing Simpler
The five rungs of investing.
Today’s top story: The secret weapon you should use to build a bigger 401(k). Also in the news: Avoiding the deferred interest credit card trap, talking to your kids about money before they leave for college, and why some borrowers with older student loans could see their payments reduced.
The Secret To Building A Bigger 401(k)
A financial adviser could be the secret weapon.
When 0% Interest Isn’t 0%: Credit Card Tricks You Must Know
Avoiding the deferred interest trap.
How to talk money before they go off to college
One of the most important conversations you’ll have before they leave.
Help is on the way for some with student loans
Those with older loans could see some relief.
The Most Expensive Mortgage Mistakes You Can Make
Avoid these at all costs.
Today’s top story: Five things to know about filing taxes for 2014. Also in the news: What you need to know about the UPS hack, when you should accept financial help from your parents, and how to score some last minute Labor Day travel deals.
Filing Taxes for 2014: 5 Things to Know
Planning ahead for tax season.
The UPS Hack: What You Need to Know
Yet another data breach.
When Should You Accept Financial Help From Your Parents?
When do you need to swallow your pride?
Great last minute Labor Day travel deals
There’s still time to plan a getaway.
4 of the worst financial gifts you can give
Scratch these off the list.
Dear Liz: My mother passed away unexpectedly in late 2008. She had a mortgage, and the house was under her name only. She didn’t leave a will. My family is still paying the loan, and the company does not know my mother passed away. We don’t have a lot of money and we need advice on how to get the house under my sister’s name (she has good credit). We need to get the loan modified since the monthly payment is almost $1,000 and only about $70 goes toward the principal.
Answer: Your mother may not have created a will, but your state has laws that determine what was supposed to happen after her death. Lying to the mortgage lender is not one of the legal options.
Federal law allows mortgages to be transferred to heirs. (Without a will, those heirs usually would include a surviving spouse and the dead person’s children.) Transfers because of death typically are exempt from the due-on-sale or acceleration clauses that otherwise would allow the lender to demand full payment.
To get the mortgage transferred, however, you usually need to have started the probate process.
At this point, you should consult a mortgage broker about the likelihood of getting a refinance or a loan modification. If the home is deeply underwater, it may not be possible or worth the effort. If foreclosure is likely, it would be better not to transfer the mortgage as the heirs’ credit would suffer significant damage.
If your plan is feasible, however, then you’ll need to consult a probate attorney. You may not have a lot of money, but you need to pool what you have to hire someone who can dig you out of this mess.
Dear Liz: After reading your column about the best ways to pay while traveling in Europe, I want to share my experience. I was unhappy with the foreign transaction fee charged on my Citibank credit card, so on my next trip to Europe I primarily used my Capital One card. Imagine my disappointment to find that Capital One’s currency conversion formula was much less favorable to me than Citibank’s.
Answer: Credit card expert Odysseas Papadimitriou suspects you were comparing purchases made on different days, or even on different trips. Although one of your cards charges a foreign transaction fee and the other doesn’t, both cards get the most favorable rate from their card network’s exchange rate. Visa cards would get the Visa card network exchange rate, while MasterCard would get the MasterCard network exchange rate. If both your cards were Visas, for example, they would get the same exchange rate, but the one that charged the foreign transaction fee would increase your cost by that amount (typically 1% to 3%).
There may be “tiny” differences between those Visa and MasterCard exchange rates on a given day, but one wouldn’t be “much less favorable” than the other, Papadimitriou said.
And the exchange rates are certainly better than what you’d get by exchanging dollars for euros at a bank in advance of your trip, or by using currency exchange services once you got there.
So the fact remains that the cheapest way to convert currency is to do so automatically by making purchases with a credit or debit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Here’s another suggestion for reducing fees abroad:
Dear Liz: One option for folks traveling to Europe to save money on ATM withdrawals is to check with their bank and find out if there is a checking or savings account that carries the benefit of the bank canceling foreign ATM fees as well as their own fees. Before I traveled to Scotland to visit my daughter, I switched accounts at my bank to one where there are no fees for using other banks’ ATMs. Worked brilliantly!
Answer: If your own bank doesn’t offer this option, it may be worth setting up a checking account with a bank that does. As mentioned in the previous column, Charles Schwab’s high-yield checking account offers unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide with no foreign transaction fees, and Capital One 360, the online bank, waives ATM fees and absorbs MasterCard’s 1% foreign transaction fee. USAA Bank charges a 1% foreign transaction fee but doesn’t charge a fee for the first 10 ATM withdrawals.
Today’s top story: What you should be teaching your kids about retirement. Also in the news: Why there’s more to your credit than just paying your cards, tips on how to prevent financial insomnia, and the long term damage of identity theft.
4 Things to Teach Your Kids About Retirement
Getting on the right path for the future.
You Can Pay Your Credit Cards & Still Wreck Your Credit
Why timing is important.
6 Financial Moves to Prevent Sleepless Nights
You need your rest.
Identity Theft Causes Years Of Financial Damage
How to prevent it.
Personal-Finance Hack Courtesy of Harvard
Without the price of an Ivy League education!
Today’s top story: Organizing your finances in just two minutes a day. Also in the news: How to retire in comfort, estate planning mistakes boomers should avoid, and what to look out for when buying an older home.
How to Organize Your Finances in Just 2 Minutes a Day
Surely you can spare two minutes.
Get These 4 Big Things Right to Retire in Comfort
Focus on the essentials.
Estate Planning Mistakes Every Boomer Should Avoid
Don’t go it alone.
5 Things to Look Out for When Buying an Older Home
Avoiding a money pit.
How Investing Affects Your Taxes
Don’t get caught off guard.
Today’s top story: Learn how to fight back against debt collectors. Also in the news: Finding the perfect retirement location, protecting your 401(k) from a market drop, and the best American cities to raise your family in.
How One Man Learned to Fight Back Against Debt Collectors
Don’t be afraid to push back.
How to pick the perfect retirement location
Getting the most for your retirement savings.
Here’s How to Protect Your 401(k) from the Next Big Market Drop
Avoiding damage from the next big downturn.
The Best Cities For Working Parents
Choosing the best place to raise your family.
Which States Give You More for Your Money?
A hundred dollars isn’t always worth a hundred dollars.
Today’s top story: Hackers steal close to five million hospital records. Also in the news: When to get your student a credit card, why a mini-retirement could restart your career, and the three powers of attorney everyone needs.
Hospitals Say Hackers Stole Records of 4.5 Million Patients
Community Health Systems operates 206 hospitals in 29 states.
Getting Your Student a Credit Card
Testing their personal responsibility.
Why a Mini-Retirement May Rejuvenate Your Career
And save you money at the same time.
Three Powers of Attorney Everyone Needs
The essentials for protecting yourself.
How Do You Stay Motivated With Your Financial Goals?
Keeping your eyes on the prize.
Today’s top story: One third of Americans have nothing saved for their retirement. Also in the news: How to pick the right bank, preparing financially for having kids, and how to get the best money market rates.
A third of people have nothing saved for retirement
You really shouldn’t be one of them.
How to pick a bank, in 7 steps
One of your most important relationships.
Babies Are Expensive: How to Prepare for Having a Kid
Adorable, but expensive.
How to Find the Best Money Market Rates
Getting the most for your savings.
3 Financial Firsts All Parents Should Prepare Their Children For
The sooner, the better.