Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 guidelines for happier holiday tipping. Also in the news: Money talk for young boys, how to save $500, and how to survive an insurance elimination period.

5 Guidelines for Happier Holiday Tipping
Some guidelines that may help you decide whom to tip, and how.

Dear Young Boys: Let’s Talk About Money
Especially investing.

How to Save $500
It’s about more than just skipping coffee.

How to Survive an Insurance Elimination Period
Making ends meet while waiting for an insurance payment.

Smart Ways to Rein In Holiday Spending

The holidays are a huge deal in the Weston household — and every year, the expenses threatened to gallop out of control.

Keeping the holiday joyous and less stressful means keeping a firm rein on our spending. In my latest for the Associated Press, what we do, as well as smart frugal tips from others.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Money advice for new graduates – and some old-school wisdom. Also in the news: Should you fix or break up with your car, types of stocks to look at if you’re getting back into the market, and how to determine if you need life insurance in retirement.

Money Advice for New Grads — and Some Old-School Wisdom
Advice from personal finance experts.

Should You Fix Up or Break Up With Your Car?
Separating emotion from reality.

Buying the Dip? Give These Types of Stocks a Look
Time to get back in the market?

How to determine if you need life insurance in retirement
Assessing your circumstances.

Q&A: You may be good with money, but if sister didn’t ask your opinion, butt out

Dear Liz: My sister and her husband are in their 80s. They are not in the greatest health but still able to live on their own. They’ve had some bad luck financially in the past. Last year they decided to convert part of their property to serve as a short-term rental. I questioned the advisability and legality of this. I was told they had checked and it was all right legally. They proceeded, but it wasn’t legal and their homeowners association shut them down. They have now decided to rent the space month-to-month through a property management firm as the HOA will allow rentals of one month or longer.

I shared my experience with rental property, which has been very mixed. Busybody that I am, I also provided information from a friend whose family had invested in rental property. My brother-in-law insists that he had a good experience many years ago with rentals. Am I wrong to call this a bad idea? Should old people try to recoup the money they put into their ill-advised initial rental attempt with another ill-advised rental attempt?

Answer: The answer to both questions is most likely, “It’s none of your business.”

You didn’t indicate anywhere in your letter that your sister or brother-in-law had sought your opinion. You also didn’t mention any signs that they may suffer from diminished capacity or any other cognitive problem that would require intervention.

What you did do was call yourself a busybody. You might want to reflect on what causes you to repeatedly offer advice to people who aren’t interested in hearing it. Those of us who are “good with money” often feel justified in lecturing those who aren’t, or who have had (as you put it) bad luck financially. Our advice is seldom welcomed, though, and can be more about making ourselves feel superior than really helping someone else. Giving unsolicited advice is actually a terrible habit, and a hard one to break since it’s so deliciously enjoyable (although not for the recipient, obviously).

If we want our opinions to truly matter, we should be more sparing with them. We can start by proffering advice only when it’s specifically requested. When we’re tempted to make an exception to this rule, we should do so only after careful thought and preferably after consulting with a friend who already is in the habit of keeping her opinions to herself. We’ll likely discover what she’s already learned, which is that our meddling usually isn’t appreciated.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 blunders to avoid when doing your own taxes. Also in the news: What to do if your W-2 is missing, 6 key investing concepts, and why there’s no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to money.

Doing Your Own Taxes? Pros Say Avoid These 4 Blunders
Getting it right the first time.

What to Do If Your W-2 Is MIA
You have options.

6 Investing Key Concepts — in Plain English
Understanding the basics.

Don’t Let the Fear of Looking Stupid Lead to Money Mistakes
There’s no such thing as a dumb question.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to make a money resolution that succeeds. Also in the news: Cashless kids’ allowances, 3 things to know about Spotify’s IPO, and why you should prioritize your job’s 401(k) benefits over offers of student loan help.

Ask Brianna: How Do I Make a Money Resolution That Succeeds?
How to stick with it.

For Kids’ Allowance, No Cash Required
Preparing your kids for life in the digital world.

Spotify’s Oddball IPO: 3 Things to Know Before You Buy
The streaming service is going public.

Prioritize Your Job’s 401(k) Benefits Over Their Offers of Student Loan Help
Taking the long view.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to deal with a mooching friend. Also in the news: 11 ways to save money on Entertainment, how to invest $100,000, and how insurance can help save wedding disasters.

Ask Brianna: How Do I Deal With a Mooching Friend?
Making tough decisions.

11 Ways to Save Money on Entertainment
While still having fun.

How to Invest $100,000
Strategic investing.

Wedding gone wrong? Insurance could help set things right
A silver lining.

Q&A: How to make sure your financial planner is looking out for you

Dear Liz: As a recent retiree, I opened an IRA with a well-reputed, independent financial planner. I was assured of our fiduciary relationship and told “besides, it will soon be law” that advisors will have to put their clients’ interests first when offering advice about retirement funds.

I guess that whole “soon to be law” thing is out the window along with many other consumer protection regulations. My question is, should I ask my advisor to reaffirm our relationship formally and if so, is there a mechanism available to me to assure this relationship?

Answer: Technically, the U.S. Department of Labor fiduciary rule for advisors is still scheduled to begin taking effect in April, despite fierce opposition from the financial services industry. The Trump administration, however, has asked for a review to see if the rule should be modified or scrapped. That has been widely taken as a signal that the rule may never be enforced, even if it does go into effect.

So yes, retirement savers should continue to be skeptical. One way to make sure that your advisor is ready to put your interests first is to ask him or her to sign the fiduciary oath that you can find at www.thefiduciarystandard.org. The oath was created by a group of financial advisors who think that advice should always be in the clients’ best interests.

Retirement advice from retired financial experts

Most retirement advice has a flaw: It’s being given by people who haven’t yet retired.

So I asked money experts who have quit the 9-to-5 for their best advice on how to prepare for retirement.

In my latest for the Associated Press, what the experts say you can do to prepare yourself both financially and mentally.

The money numbers you need to know

lighting-calculation-1000Some numbers matter more than others. How much you make is important, for example, but your financial health depends far more on how much you keep.

Knowing certain numbers can help you understand how well you’re converting income into wealth, as well as the impact of your spending and tax situation on that process. In my latest for the Associated Press, the calculations that can help you make better decisions.