Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

shutterstock_38185810-2Today’s top story: How to tell your checking account is the right fit. Also in the news: Tips for handling holiday financial stress, financial concepts you’ll actually use, and important things to know about 529 college savings plan withdrawals.

5 Ways to Tell If Your Checking Account’s the Right Fit
Avoid excess fees.

5 Tips for Handling Holiday Financial Stress
More celebrating, less stressing.

6 Financial Concepts You’ll Actually Use
Applying concepts to everyday life.

4 important things to know about 529 College Savings Plan withdrawals
They aren’t necessarily tax-free.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

download (1)Today’s top story: Should you splurge or save with your tax refund? Also in the news: Saving for the end of the world, understanding Obamacare tax penalties, and why free checking is becoming a thing of the past.

Tax refunds: Cheap thrills or savvy savings?
Choose wisely.

End-of-world money moves to make
Why should the zombies get your money?

Obamacare Tax Penalties: Will You Have to Pay?
Understanding the new insurance penalties.

Free checking disappearing at the big banks
Free checking is going the way of free toasters.

Will Opening Credit Cards Help My Credit
Possibly. But proceed with caution.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Little Girl with Crown of EarsHow to survive your child’s summer vacation without emptying your wallet, protecting your tuition investments, and how to ensure your semester abroad doesn’t lead to financial disaster.

Six Ways to Save Money on Summer Childcare
Keeping your child busy this summer doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank.

Why a Good Student Checking Account Matters

Student checking accounts are a perfect way to teach financial responsibility.

Kids and Money: Tuition is an Insurable Investment

Tuition refund insurance can provide peace of mind.

Plan For Financial Independence, Not Retirement
Financial independence can mean working when you want; not because you have to.

4 Credit Card Tips for College Students Headed Overseas

How to avoid a financial mess when studying abroad.

Old check is probably worthless

Dear Liz: Twelve years ago I hired a moving company. I must have overpaid them, because in January 2001 I received a refund check for $235. I misplaced the check and didn’t find it until 2003. Ever since then I have made a number of phone calls asking for a replacement. All my calls were to no avail. Can you help?

Answer: No. You typically have six months to cash a check. If you miss that time frame, you can ask the issuer for a new check, but it is usually under no obligation to accommodate you. Trying to deposit an old check can often result in a “returned check” fee from your bank when the check is stopped or returned unpaid.

Find cheaper checking and ditch your bank

If you’re sick of rising bank fees, check out a new feature at NerdWallet that allows you to compare the costs of more than 120 different checking accounts across a spectrum of banks and credit unions.

You’ll answer a few questions about how you use your account, including the minimum balance you can maintain and how much you’ll deposit each month. The feature serves up the best matches based on your answers. If you have enough cash on hand to qualify for an interest-bearing checking account, the feature can help you find some good options.

You also might want to read a couple of my previous posts on this topic: “How to shop for a new bank” and “7 steps to say ‘buh-bye’ to your bank.”

Changing banks isn’t hassle-free, but you can save some decent money switching to an institution that actually wants your business, rather than punishing you for it.