Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How women who retire with their husbands ofter lose out. Also in the news: Why the cashless trend doesn’t have all shoppers sold, what rising DTI limits mean for your next mortgage, and how to protect your frequent flyer miles from hackers.

How Women Who Retire With Their Husbands Often Lose Out
Losing years of income.

Why the Cashless Trend Doesn’t Have All Shoppers Sold
Cash still matters.

What Rising DTI Limits Mean for Your Next Mortgage
Your debt-to-income ratio is key to mortgage approval.

Protect Your Frequent Flyer Miles from Hackers
Miles have become a hot commodity.

How women who retire with their husbands often lose out

Women who retire when their husbands do may be giving up more wealth than they realize.

Married women overall are still in their peak earning years in their 50s and early 60s, while married men’s earnings are on the decline, says economist Nicole Maestas, an associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and the author of a recent study about couples’ income and retirement patterns.

As a result, married women typically sacrifice more Social Security wealth than married men when they retire early, says Maestas, who analyzed the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Survey of more than 20,000 people 50 and older.

In my latest for the Associated Press, why women should consider staying employed longer than their husbands.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Want to become a millionaire? These choices can get you there. Also in the news: Use points and miles on ordinary expenses, being partners in finances and life, and how to shore up your savings against inflation.

Want to Become a Millionaire? These Choices Can Get You There
The road to a million.

Go Ahead, Use Points and Miles on Ordinary Expenses
Leave some wiggle room in your budget.

Be Partners in Finances As Well As in Life
Understanding the big picture together.

Inflation Erodes Your Savings. Here’s How to Shore Them Up
Don’t be caught short.

Q&A: When the path to the altar is littered with old debts

Dear Liz: My fiancee has incurred a lot of medical debt during the course of our relationship. She works 13- to 14-hour days at two jobs so she can start saving for the wedding and our shared goals, which include buying her a car, sending me to grad school without incurring more student debt, creating a real emergency fund for us, and moving out of my apartment into a new one.

She thinks her credit is horrible (though she has never checked it) and she knows with the medical bills, it is getting worse. She doesn’t think she can move in because she can’t buy a car.

What should I do? Should I help her with her debt so we can actually plan for the wedding scheduled next July? Or should I let her deal with it herself?

My biggest concern in all of this is that I have significantly better finances. I worked hard in college and have a full-time job that pays a living wage. I’ve been in my own apartment for two years.

Sometimes I feel resentful of the fact that she cannot contribute to our household like I can, and I worry that I will have to shoulder our shared goals. I am particularly worried I will have to pay for the wedding, which I am finding more and more ridiculously expensive every day (we’re only spending $5,600), while not being able to save for grad school.

I really am not sure how to give up my frustration and face reality, and our reality is that medical debt is holding up our plans.

Answer: It’s understandable that you’re frustrated. But please don’t take it out on your fiancee, who sounds like a hard-working person who had the bad luck of getting sick.

Working 13-hour days isn’t sustainable, particularly for someone with health issues. She may already have more medical debt than she can reasonably repay, and continuing to struggle with these bills may make achieving other goals impossible.

Encourage her to make an appointment with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Bankruptcy may not be the right choice for her, but the attorney should be able to assess her situation and discuss her options.

Her debt may be manageable with some help from you. In that case, you two need to discuss how to handle this and your finances in general.

Don’t listen to people — or your own preconceptions — telling you there’s only one way couples should handle money. Some married couples keep their finances entirely separate. Some combine everything — all assets and income are joint, and so are all debts. Most take a middle path, combining some accounts and obligations while keeping others separate.

Finances can also evolve. You may be able to contribute more now, but your fiancee may become the primary breadwinner when you start graduate school. When that happens, would you expect her to help you pay the student loan debt you acquired before marriage, or will that be your obligation?

What’s most important is that you figure out how to work as a team, without resentment and unspoken expectations. It may help to schedule a visit with a fee-only financial planner to discuss your shared goals and how you’ll fund them. You can get referrals to fee-only advisors who charge by the hour at the Garrett Planning Network, www.garrettplanningnetwork.com, and to those who charge monthly fees at the XY Planning Network, www.xyplanningnetwork.com.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How replacement window costs add up. Also in the news: Hiring a vacation photographer, how to fight about money and stay madly in love, and 5 things to do first if you win tonight’s Mega Millions jackpot.

How Replacement Window Costs Add Up
Things to take into consideration.

So Long, Selfie Stick. For Better Vacation Photos, Go With a Pro
Hiring a vacation photographer.

How to Fight About Money and Stay Madly in Love
Don’t let money come between you.

5 things to do first if you hit the $512 million Mega Millions jackpot
Besides jumping up and down on the couch.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to protect your money from criminals. Also in the news: How to fight about money and stay madly in love, how to have “the talk” about finances with your parents, and deciding to reroute some of your retirement savings to pay for a house.

Banking Has Changed, but Criminals Haven’t — Here’s How to Protect Your Money
Staying on guard.

How to Fight About Money and Stay Madly in Love
Don’t let money get in the way.

Have ‘The Talk’ About Finances With Your Parents Already
Having the tough conversations.

Should You Reroute Some of Your Retirement Savings to Pay for a House?
One of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: TSA-Approved ways to cut the airport screening line. Also in the news: How to talk retirement with your spouse, the most and least affordable areas in the country, and things to consider before co-signing a student loan.

TSA-Approved Ways to Cut the Airport Screening Line
Is TSA pre-check worth the price?

How to Talk Retirement With Your Spouse
One of the most important conversations you’ll ever have.

Home Affordability Watch, Q1: California Buyers, Keep Dreamin’
The most and least affordable areas in the country.

Piggybacking on good credit: Things to consider before co-signing a student loan
A few things to think about.

Q&A: One spouse’s debts might haunt the other after death

Dear Liz: I have a terminal illness and have less than a year to live. My wife and I are in our 80s and don’t own anything: no cars, no homes. My wife has an IRA worth $140,000 that pays us $2,000 a month, and she has a small pension of $1,400 a month. We receive $3,900 from Social Security, for a total monthly income of $7,200.

We have $72,000 in credit card debt that is strangling us. I told my wife that after I’m gone she should simply ignore that debt and advise creditors that I have passed away. Or should we attempt to file bankruptcy now?

Answer: Your return address shows you live in California, which is a community property state. Debts incurred during marriage are generally considered joint debts, so expecting creditors to go away after your death is not realistic.

Your wife’s retirement also could be at risk because California has limited creditor protection for IRAs. Federal law protects IRAs worth up to $1,283,025 in bankruptcy court, but outside bankruptcy, creditor protection depends on state law. In California, only amounts “necessary for support” are protected.

You really need to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options. You can get referrals from the National Assn. of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys at www.nacba.org.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: One couple’s journey from debt to $1.5 million in savings. Also in the news: What to buy and skip in July, Whole Foods joins Amazon’s Prime Day, and how the lawsuits against student loan service Navient could affect you.

One Couple’s Journey From Debt to $1.5 Million in Savings
Communication is key.

What to Buy (and Skip) in July
Making the most of midsummer sales.

Prime Day Alert: 10% Back at Whole Foods with Amazon Prime Visa
Whole Foods joins the Prime Day excitement.

How the lawsuits against student loan servicer Navient could affect you
Four states are currently suing the student loan giant.

Q&A: Wife should get her name on deed

Dear Liz: My daughter, who is a stay-at-home mother of two, recently bought a home with her husband. They have been married seven years. I recently discovered that her name isn’t on the deed to the home. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t sound good to me. What are her potential issues?

Answer: The issues depend on where she lives. Community property states include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

If your daughter lives in one of those, assets acquired during marriage, including a home, are generally considered community property owned equally by both spouses. Her husband, ideally, should place her on title via a deed to reflect true ownership or place it in a trust to provide for his wife. However, if her husband should die without bequeathing her the property, the home could go to probate proceeding, and the wife would have to provide proof that it was community property to receive all of it, says estate planning attorney Jennifer Sawday of Long Beach.

In other states, different rules apply. Typically assets held in one person’s name are that person’s property. If the husband has a will, he could leave the house to your daughter — or not. Should he die without a will, she could wind up sharing ownership of the house with others, such as children from a previous marriage.