Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: The right way to close a credit card. Also in the news: Financial tools you no longer need, determining how much college tuition you can afford, and how baby boomers can survive retirement.

What’s the Right Way to Close a Credit Card?
How you say goodbye matters.

5 Financial Tools You No Longer Need
Some of these may surprise you.

How Much Tuition Can You Really Afford?
Time for a reality check.

How Boomers Can Avoid Going Bust in Retirement
There’s still time to get your act together.

Q&A: Investing vs Saving for college tuition

Dear Liz: We recently inherited some money. We’ve never had much. We want to invest our inheritance for our kids’ college education.

We asked around to find investment firms that people have had a good experience with. But how do we know they are honest and make sound investment decisions? How do we know if the rates they are charging are fair and reasonable? (For example, one charges a percentage of the value of the account. How do I know if their rate is a fair amount?)

Answer: If you want to invest the money for college education, you don’t need to consult an advisor at all. You simply can use a 529 college savings plan. These plans allow you to invest money that grows tax-deferred and can be used tax free for qualified college expenses nationwide.

These plans are sponsored by the states and run by investment firms. You might want to stick with your own state’s plan if you get a tax break for doing so (check http://www.savingforcollege.com for the details of each plan).

If not, consider choosing one of the plans singled out by research firm Morningstar as the best in 2014: the Maryland College Investment Plan, Alaska’s T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan, the Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan in Nevada and the Utah Educational Savings Plan.

College savings plans typically offer several investment choices, but you can make it easy by choosing the “age weighted” option, which invests your contributions according to your child’s age, getting more conservative as college draws nearer.

If you still want to talk to an advisor — which isn’t a bad idea when dealing with a windfall — you’ll want to choose carefully.

Relying on friends and family isn’t necessarily the best approach. Many of the people who invested with Bernie Madoff were introduced to him by people they knew.

Most advisors aren’t crooks, but they also don’t have to put your interests ahead of their own. That means they can steer you into expensive investment products that pay them larger commissions.

If you want an advisor who puts you first, you’ll want to find one who agrees to be a fiduciary for you, and who is willing to put that in writing.

Here are three sources for fiduciary advice:

•The Financial Planning Assn. at http://www.plannersearch.org

•The Garrett Planning Network at http://www.garrettplanningnetwork.com

•The National Assn. of Personal Financial Advisors at http://www.napfa.org.

Garrett planners charge by the hour with no minimums. Expect to pay around $150 an hour.

NAPFA planners often charge a percentage of assets — typically about 1%.

FPA members charge for advice in a variety of ways, including fees, commissions and a combination of the two.

Any planner should provide you with clear information about how he or she gets paid.

You’ll want to check the advisor’s credentials as well. The gold standard for financial planners is the CFP, which stands for Certified Financial Planner.

An equivalent designation for CPAs is the PFS, which stands for Personal Financial Specialist. People with these designations have received a broad education in comprehensive financial planning, have met minimum experience requirements and agree to uphold certain ethical standards.

Each of the organizations listed above has more tips for choosing a plan on its website.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Planning for you child’s college costs. Also in the news: How to destroy your debt in 2015, the crucial steps in setting up your first 401(k), and what you should do with your year-end bonus.

How to Plan for Your Child’s College Costs
The sooner you get started, the better.

5 Sure-Fire Ways to Start Killing Your Debt Next Year
Your debt won’t know what hit it.

3 Crucial Steps to Setting Up Your First 401(k)
Starting off on the right foot.

What to do with your year-end bonus
Don’t spend it all in one place.

Make Sure Your Retirement Savings Last With the “Bucket” Method
Filling the buckets for peace of mind.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

22856641_SAToday’stop story: For a low-cost college education, consider moving to these places. Also in the news: Celebrating your small financial victories, the hype surrounding Black Friday, and why more Americans are having a tough time making ends meet.

The Best and Worst Places to Live for a Low-Cost College Education
Planning ahead.

Celebrate Your Small Financial Wins for Better Savings Motivation
Small victories quickly add up.

5 Black Friday Deals That Aren’t (and 3 That Should Be)
Don’t believe the hype.

America’s Top Money Problem: Trying to Make Ends Meet
More Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

Everything You Need to Know About Down Payments
When to take that giant leap.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

AA-hommeToday’s top story: How to discover what personal finance nerds know. Also in the news: How to get a judgment off of your credit report, the high cost of college tuition convenience fees, and what’s really behind all of your financial fears.

10 Things Only Personal Finance Nerds Would Understand
We could all stand to be a little nerdy when it comes to personal finance.

How to Get a Judgment off Your Credit Report
Difficult but not impossible.

Is Convenience When Paying Your Tuition Worth a 2.62% Fee?
Not when it could add up to over $1000 a year.

Common Money Fears and How to Get Over Them
What’s really behind those nagging financial fears?

Five apps to help you organize your personal finances
Something to do on your phone that isn’t Candy Crush.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

22856641_SAToday’s top story: Tax breaks that can help pay for your kid’s college. Also in the news: How to prevent bad financial decisions in old age, when it’s time to call in a financial adviser, and the surprising answer as to whether or not you should pay off your mortgage early.

Tax breaks that can help when paying for college
See what your family may qualify for.

Preventing bad decisions in old age
Preparing for the time when you’re unable to make wise decisions.

Should You Pay Off a Mortgage Early? The Answer May Surprise You!
One of the rare occasions where paying early doesn’t pay off.

When Should You Use a Financial Advisor?
At what point should you enlist help with your finances?

3 Reasons to Check Your Credit Report Today
One in nine Americans have never checked their credit report.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Chip cardToday’s top story: How to get rewarded for being responsible with your credit cards. Also in the news: The hidden costs of a new job, tips on how to avoid credit fraud, and how you should and shouldn’t pay for college.

3 Credit Cards That Reward You for Being Responsible
Paying on time has its benefits.

5 Hidden Costs of a New Job
That new salary could cost you.

5 Common-Sense Tips to Help Avoid Credit Card Fraud, ID Theft
Protect yourself.

Making smart choices when paying for college
Using your retirement savings isn’t one of them.

7 scams that just won’t die
Microsoft isn’t calling you.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

money-vacation-saveToday’s top story: Common credit mistakes that could ruin your mortgage. Also in the news: Starbucks will pay college tuition for all of its employees, a young person’s guide to getting rich, and what not to do with your credit cards during your summer vacation.

5 Credit Moves That Could Wreck Your Mortgage
Common mistakes to avoid during the mortgage process.

Starbucks clears college degree path for employees
All employees will receive free tuition to an online University.

A Young Person’s Guide To Getting Rich Slowly
Saving immediately for retirement is key.

5 Summertime Credit Card Blunders and How to Avoid Them
You’ll have to pay for all that summer fun eventually.

Moving Just to Avoid Taking 401(k) Tax Hit
Just a bit extreme.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: The student loan deadlines you need to know. Also in the news: What to do if you haven’t saved for your kid’s college, a retirement check list for baby boomers, and how getting in shape could help your wallet.

3 Student Loan Deadlines Everyone Needs to Know
Missing these deadlines could become costly.

Eight Tips for Parents Who Have Saved Nothing for College
Hope is not completely lost.

Here’s What Needs to be on Every Boomers’ Retirement Check List
The important things you need to watch.

How to Spring Clean Your Budget: Start With Your Health
Get your body and your wallet in shape.

Does Taking Early Social Security Hurt Your Spouse?
Taking social security early could have a big impact on your spouse.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Saving money on your summer travel plans. Also in the news: Disappearing inheritances, creative college financing, and the hidden costs of moving.

6 ways to score deals on summer travel
Planning ahead could save you money.

Why You May Not Get An Inheritance (And What To Do About It)
You know that saying about counting chickens before they hatch?

Outside-the-Box Financial Strategies to Pay for College
Thinking outside the loan box.

The Hidden Costs of Moving
You’re going to need boxes, packing tape and a whole lot of cash.

Helping Gen Y Declare Their Financial Independence
Escaping the debt-ridden 20’s.