Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

payday-loansToday’s top story: Financial aid tips for procrastinators. Also in the news: Auto insurance in the driverless car era, payday alternative loans, and six ways your teen driver will affect your wallet.

4 Financial Aid Tips for College Procrastinators
Don’t waste any more time.

If You Hate Auto Insurance, You’ll Love Driverless Cars
A change in who’s to blame for accidents.

What Is a Payday Alternative Loan?
Avoiding the traditional payday loan trap.

6 Ways Your Teen Driver Will Affect Your Wallet
It’s more expensive than you’d think.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

22856641_SAToday’s top story: Finding your college savings “magic number.” Also in the news: What to do when your bank isn’t measuring up, what to buy (and skip) over Labor Day weekend, and how teachers are bringing financial literacy into classrooms.

Finding Your ‘Magic Number’ for College Savings
Coming up with a reasonable estimate.

Bank Not Measuring Up? How to Tell and What to Do
You don’t have to stick with a bad bank.

What to Buy (and Skip) Over Labor Day Weekend
Navigating the sales.

How Teachers Are Bringing Financial Literacy Lessons to the Classroom
Getting kids excited about saving.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: What Hillary Clinton’s college affordability plan could mean for you. Also in the news: How to enjoy your summer vacation without going broke, what seniors want you to know about managing money, and how to save for retirement without a full-time job.

What Clinton’s College Affordability Plan Could Mean for You
Is this a gamechanger?

Enjoy Your Summer Vacation — Without Maxing out Your Credit Cards
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

10 Things Seniors Want You to Know About Managing Money
Speaking from experience.

5 ways to save for retirement without a full-time job or 401k
Every bit helps.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

how_to_build_an_emergency_fundToday’s top story: How two extra years in college could cost you close to $300,000. Also in the news: How a financial advisor can help with life insurance, tips for paying off student loans if you didn’t finish college, and why 66 million Americans don’t have an emergency fund.

2 Extra Years in College Could Cost You Nearly $300,000
An incentive to graduate on time.

How a Financial Advisor Can Guide Clients’ Life Insurance Decisions
Seeing the bigger picture.

Tips for Paying Off Your Student Loans if You Didn’t Finish College
Strategic repayment could save you money.

66 Million Americans Have No Emergency Savings
A recipe for disaster.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to improve your online banking security. Also in the news: Avoiding overwhelming student debt, getting the most out of your 401(k) plan, and 12 cheap ways to keep your kids busy this summer.

5 Ways to Improve Your Online Banking Security
Protecting your information.

8 College Planning Tips to Avoid Overwhelming Student Loan Debt
There are alternatives.

401(k) Fatigue? Here’s How to Get the Most Out of Your Plan
Don’t leave money on the table.

Summer is coming: 12 cheap ways to keep your kids busy
Summer doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

scamToday’s top story: The red flags of a toxic online loan. Also in the news: What to do when you can’t get enough financial aid, why 43% of Millennials have bad credit, and 10 questions to help start getting your financial life in order.

5 Red Flags of a Toxic Online Loan
Who are you really borrowing from?

Can’t Get Enough Financial Aid? Here’s What to Do
Take a deep breath.

43% of Millennials Have Bad Credit, TransUnion Says
Subprime scores.

Get Your Financial Life In Order By Answering These 10 Questions
Taking the first steps.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

types-of-scholarshipsToday’s top story: Clever strategies to fund your child’s college education. Also in the news: How to choose a qualified credit counselor, how the wage gap for women turns into a retirement gap, and how to protect yourself from ATM fraud.

3 Clever Strategies to Fund Your Child’s College Education
Thinking outside the box.

3 Steps to Choosing a Qualified Credit Counselor
Finding the counselor who can best serve your needs.

For Women, Wage Gap Becomes Retirement Gap
The 21% gap.

Warning: ATM Fraud Is on the Rise
Protecting yourself from ATM skimming.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

money-down-the-drainToday’s top story: Home improvements that don’t pay off in the long run. Also in the news: How to build a budget, easy ways to vet financial aid offers, and how to lay the financial groundwork for a career change.

4 Home Improvements That Don’t Pay (and 4 Better Options)
How to avoid turning your home into a money pit.

How to Build a Budget
Step by step.

Three Easy Ways to Vet Financial Aid Offers
What to ask when deciding on offers.

How to Survive a Career Change
Laying the financial groundwork in advance.

Is Debt-Free College Really Possible?

A reader in her 70s once asked me why kids today don’t do what she did: Work for a year after high school and save up enough to pay for a bachelor’s degree.

If you just busted out laughing, then you’re familiar with how high today’s college costs are compared with five or six decades ago. Even with substantial financial aid and one heck of a work ethic, it’s hard to imagine a high school graduate earning enough in a year to pay for four (or usually five or even six) years of college. The average annual sticker price for a public university is close to $20,000, while private schools average over $40,000.

In my latest for NerdWallet, a debt-free college reality check.

Q&A: College savings strategy

Dear Liz: I will be 66 in May 2016. My wife is 68 and retired. She began receiving Social Security when she turned 66. I am still working, making a high six-figure income, and will continue to do so until I reach 70, when my Social Security benefit reaches its maximum. I plan to use my Social Security earnings to save for my grandchildren’s college educations (unless an emergency occurs and we need the income). I want to maximize the amount that I can give them. What is the best strategy, taking into consideration the recent change in Social Security rules relating to “claim now, claim more later”?

Answer: You just missed the April 29 cutoff for being able to “file and suspend.” Before the rules changed, you could have filed your application at full retirement age (66) and immediately suspended it. That would allow your benefit to continue growing while giving you the option to change your mind and get a lump-sum payout dating back to your application date.

Since Congress did away with file-and-suspend for people who turn 66 after April 30, that option is off the table for you. There are other ways to maximize your household benefit, said economist Laurence Kotlikoff, author of “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security.” They include:

•Your wife suspends her benefit and lets it grow for another two years, then restarts getting checks when she turns 70.

•At 66, you file for a spousal benefit. People who are 62 or older by the end of this year retain the ability to file a “restricted application” for spousal benefits only once they turn 66. That option is not available to younger people, who will be given the larger of their spousal benefits or their own benefits when they apply.

•At 70, you switch to your own, maxed-out benefit. Again, the ability to switch from spousal to one’s own benefit is going away, but you still have the option to do this.

Consider saving in a 529 college savings plan, which offers tax advantages while allowing you to retain control of the money. You can even withdraw the money for your own use if necessary, although you would pay income taxes and a 10% federal penalty on any earnings.

You should know, however, that college-savings plans owned by grandparents can mess with financial aid. Plans owned by grandparents aren’t factored into initial financial aid calculations, but any disbursements are counted as income that can negatively affect future awards. One workaround is to wait until Jan. 1 of the child’s junior year, when financial aid forms will no longer be a consideration, and pay for all qualified education expenses from that point on.

Obviously, you won’t have to worry about this if your grandchildren wouldn’t qualify for financial aid anyway. If your children also make six-figure incomes, that’s likely to be the case.