Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to make the most of the Child Tax Credit this year. Also in the news: 4 reasons to ditch your old debit card, getting to know your 401(k) plan, and how to choose the best tax software.

How to Make the Most of the Child Tax Credit This Year
The tax credit is doubling for 2018.

4 Reasons to Ditch Your Old Debit Card
New card, new perks.

Get to Know Your 401(k) Plan
Everything you need to know about your retirement savings.

How to Choose the Best Tax Software for You This Year
DIY vs finding a pro.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Free investments can come at a cost. Also in the news: How to not be your own worst enemy when investing, 5 things to cut your tax bill by December 31st, and how to increase your 401(k) or IRA contributions for 2019.

Free Investments Can Come at a Cost
Free doesn’t always mean without cost.

Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy When Investing
Look for help.

Do These 5 Things by Dec. 31 to Cut Your Tax Bill
You’ve still got time.

Increase Your 401(k) or IRA Contributions for 2019
Boost your retirement savings.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Get to know your 401(k) plan. Also in the news: How one couple ditched debt, having the talk about college costs with your teen, and what to do if you’re affected by Marriott’s huge data breach.

Get to Know Your 401(k) Plan
Everything you need to know.

How I Ditched Debt: ‘We Have Choices Again’
One couple’s story.

Having ‘The Talk’ About College Costs With Your Teen
Keeping expectations in check.

What to Do If You’re Affected by Marriott’s Data Breach
Over 500,000,000 customers are affected.

Q&A: When to merge 401(k) accounts

Dear Liz: I have $640,000 in a previous employer’s 401(k) and $100,000 in my new employer’s plan. Do you recommend I merge the two? Both funds offer similar investment options. My only motivation is based on simplifying paperwork during retirement, although there may be other advantages I am not aware of.

Answer: The choice of investment options matters less than what you pay for them. If your current plan offers cheaper choices, rolling your previous account into your current one makes sense if your employer allows that.

If the previous employer’s plan is cheaper, though, leaving the money where it is can make more sense. Once you actually reach retirement age you can decide whether to consolidate the plans or roll them into an IRA.

IRAs give you a wider array of investment options, but keeping the money in 401(k) accounts has other advantages. Larger 401(k)s often offer access to cheaper, institutional funds that aren’t available to retail investors in their IRAs. A 401(k) may offer more asset protection, depending on your state’s laws, plus you can begin withdrawals as early as age 55 without penalty if you no longer work for that employer.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Don’t leave credit card rewards on the table when dining out. Also in the news: How to move forward after a financial setback, the best Black Friday TV deals, and when to opt out of the target-date funds in your 401(k).

Dining Out? Don’t Leave Credit Card Rewards on the Table
Earning money back for every meal.

How to Move Forward After a Financial Setback
Getting back on track.

Best Black Friday TV Deals, 2018
The most screen for your money.

When to Opt Out of the Target-Date Funds in Your 401(k)
It depends on your goals.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 steps to change homeowners insurance paid through escrow. Also in the news: Getting by on the average retirement income, TSA-Approved ways to cut the airport screening lines, and how to tell if your company’s 401(k) plan is any good.

5 Steps to Change Homeowners Insurance Paid Through Escrow
Seamless transition.

Could You Get By On the Average Retirement Income?
Will you have enough?

TSA-Approved Ways to Cut the Airport Screening Line
You can leave your shoes on.

How to Tell if Your Company’s 401(k) Plan Is Any Good
Is it worth contributing to?

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Intern with a 401(k)? Here’s how to make it pay. Also in the news: 6 big ways credit can affect your life, helping your kid start a business, and a new game show pays off winner’s student loans.

Intern With a 401(k)? Here’s How to Make It Pay
Make long-term gains from short-term work.

6 Big Ways Your Credit Can Affect Your Life
Where you live, work, and play.

Can You Afford to Help Your Kid Start a Business?
Beyond the lemonade stand.

New game show ‘Paid Off’ offers chance to eliminate student loan debt
Welcome to 2018.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why new grads shouldn’t snooze and lose on their employer’s 401(k). Also in the news: Ditching debt by working side gigs, how to decide if that life insurance rider is worth it, and how freelancers can save for retirement beyond an IRA.

New Grads, Don’t Snooze and Lose on Your Employer’s 401(k)
One of the biggest steps you’ll take in your new financial life.

How I Ditched Debt: Paying With Cash, Working Side Gigs
One man’s experience paying down his debt.

How to Decide If That Life Insurance Rider Is Worth It
A look at the extra benefits.

How Freelancers Can Save for Retirement Beyond an IRA
Other options to consider.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to break free from credit card inertia. Also in the news: How to travel like a minimalist and save big, paring down the price of a move to a new state, and the 401(k) fees you need to know.

How to Break Free of Credit Card Inertia
Evaluating your cards.

Travel Like a Minimalist and Save Big
Avoid the tourist traps.

Pare Down the Price of a Move to a New State
Cutting costs each step of the way.

401(k) Fees You Need to Know
Tracking the fees charged by your mutual fund manager.

Q&A: If you’re putting money in a 401(k) and an IRA at the same time, be ready for the taxes

Dear Liz: I recently returned to a regular 9-to-5 job after freelancing for several years. I contributed the maximum amount to an IRA while self-employed and continued to do so after starting my new job. I was surprised to learn when doing my taxes this year that I could not deduct my IRA contributions because I was also contributing to my company’s 401(k) plan.

Other than increase my 401(k) contributions at the expense of future IRA funding, are there any actions I can take?

Answer: The ability to deduct IRA contributions when contributing to a workplace retirement plan phases out once your modified adjusted gross income reaches certain limits. For single filers, the deduction starts to phase out at $63,000 and disappears at $73,000. For married couples filing jointly, the phase-out is from $101,000 to $121,000.

Your next move depends on your goals and situation. If you’re primarily concerned with reducing your current tax bill and you’re likely to be in a lower tax bracket in retirement, as most people will, then you should funnel more money into your 401(k) rather than funding your IRA.

If, however, you expect to be in the same or higher bracket in retirement, or if you want more flexibility to control your tax bill in your later years, consider contributing to a Roth IRA in addition to your 401(k). Roths don’t offer an up-front deduction, but withdrawals in retirement are tax free. Also, unlike 401(k)s and traditional IRAs, there are no minimum required withdrawals in retirement.

There are income limits on the ability to contribute to a Roth IRA. For single people, the ability to contribute phases out between modified adjusted gross incomes of $120,000 to $135,000 in 2018. For married couples filing jointly, the phase-out is between $189,000 and $199,000.