Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Five areas of personal finance that you can’t afford to ignore. Also in the news: How your unhappy relationship could affect your wallet, what to do when a friend sends a debt collector after you, and how you can be rewarded for waiting to purchase something online.

Personal Finance: 5 Areas You Can’t Ignore
Paying attention to the basics.

5 money habits of unhappy couples
When relationship angst affects your wallet.

Can a Friend Send a Debt Collector After Me?
With friends like these…

The Retailers Who Will Reward You for Abandoning Your Shopping Cart
Waiting a little bit could save you money.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Three dumb things you’re doing with your credit cards. Also in the news: Learning about the most common tax credits, details on the newest way to save towards retirement, and tips on how to spend your tax refund.

3 Stupid Things You Do With Your Credit Card
Stop doing that, would you?

Tax credits for all
A primer on the most common tax credits.

What’s All the Fuss About myRA Accounts?
A look at the newest way to save towards retirement.

Smart Tips for Your Tax Refund
How to get the most from your refund.

When to Tell Your Sweetheart About Your Money Problems
The best time to have The Talk.

How couples can agree on a retirement plan

Dear Liz: My husband and I are 56. We need to plan for retirement, but whenever the topic comes up, I find that either we have no idea or we disagree on what we will do during our retirement. Naturally, our activities during retirement will affect the funds we will need. We need help to figure out the things we agree on and where we might want to plan for different individual options. Do you have some resources to suggest?

Answer: You can start with a visualization exercise that some financial planners use to clarify their clients’ values.

Imagine your ideal day in retirement. Start with when you’ll wake up and where — what type of dwelling and in what area. In your mind, walk through your day hour by hour — where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing and with whom. Write it all down, even if you don’t think what you’re visualizing is realistic or even possible. The point is to identify, for yourself and your partner, what’s most important to you: what you want your life to be like and whom you want in it. If you visualize waking up in Paris, for example, it doesn’t mean you need to move there. You may be just as content with a trip to the City of Light or travel to less-expensive destinations.

You each should do the exercise separately and then compare what you’ve written. Don’t despair if you visualize yourself on the Champs-Elysees and he’s fishing off his back porch. As you correctly note, you can have different goals and desires for retirement. Complete harmony has never been a requirement of staying married, and that won’t change when you quit your jobs.

Let’s say you want to get deeply immersed as a volunteer for a local, at-risk school, and your husband wants to spend a year roaming the country in an RV. He could opt to pursue other interests during the school year, and you could take extended trips together during the breaks.

Once you’re clearer about what you want for your retirements, you can start working the numbers and figuring out compromises that work for both of you. Start with your expenses — what you’re spending annually now — and subtract any costs that will disappear or substantially diminish when you retire (such as commuting expenses and work clothes). Add in the amounts you’ll need to pursue your passions. (Will you buy the RV used or new? In retirement or before? Tip: Buying a lightly used vehicle before retirement will give you both a chance to get the hang of RVing and its costs so you can decide whether it’s really for you.)

Compare your expected expenses with your expected income, including Social Security, any pensions and withdrawals from your retirement accounts (which initially should be just 3% to 4% of the total balance, planners say). If there’s a gap, that’s what you’ll need to fill in the coming years with increased savings.

Still at an impasse? Hire a fee-only planner who has experience in “life planning,” or helping clients figure out their life goals. You can get a referral from the Kinder Institute of Life Planning at http://www.kinderinstitute.com/dir/.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

School Kids DiversitySaving on back-to-school shopping, tool to make managing your money easier, and what you need to do financially when your marriage comes to an end.

Be Smart on Back-to-School Shopping
How to fill their backpacks without emptying your wallet.

8 Money Tools You Should Try
8 tools to make managing your money much easier.

How To Reduce Your Debts Without Spending Unnecessarily
You shouldn’t have spend money to get out of debt.

Save Your Way to $1 Million Dollars
It might be easier than you think!

We’re Getting A Divorce, Now What?
Ways to protect yourself financially when your marriage comes to its end.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

My first carHow to speed up your mortgage closing, saving more money with a maxed out 401(K), and preparing for your teenager’s time behind the wheel.

Four Steps to a Speedier Mortgage Closing
Speeding up the last, agonizing step before home ownership.
How Rising Interest Rates Affect Retirement
Rising interest rates could leave you altering your retirement plans.
Maxed Out on Your 401(K)? How to Save More
Maxing out your 401(K) doesn’t mean you should stop saving.
The Impact of Adding a Teenager to Your Auto Policy
Prepare to open your wallet when Junior’s ready to get behind the wheel.

How to Budget as a Live-In Couple
Creating a budget can make a stressful time much easier.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Champagne glassesFinancial survival tips for before the wedding and after the marriage ends, freedom from credit card debt, and beating the retirement clock.

Engaged? You Might Need Money Therapy
Things you should know before you walk down the aisle.

How Does Divorce Affect Bankruptcy and Mortgage
Things you should know for when the walk down the aisle fails.

Declare Your Independence From Credit Card Debt
Life, liberty and the pursuit of zero debt.

How to Get Help From a Student Loan Mediator
Student loan battles don’t have to be fought alone.
What to Do When You Haven’t Saved Enough for Retirement
How to get by when time isn’t on your side.

Marketplace launches “Family Feud”

RelationshipActually, the new feature from public radio’s Marketplace Money is called “Financial Feud,” but it deals with some family arguments about money that may sound more than a little familiar. Such as:

  • Should I quit work to stay home with the baby when day care eats up most of my pay?
  • My husband is going nuts with airline credit cards. He says the rewards are worth the cost. Is he right?
  • Where do you draw the line between energy savings and comfort? (Ah, the battle of the thermostat…)
  • What’s the best way for roommates to split food costs?
  • And then there’s the $10,000 bike…

Check out these very real disputes submitted by listeners, see what the experts have said and weigh in what you think.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Old Woman Hand on CaneTips on staying debt free, managing an aging parent’s finances and the importance of “the money talk” before heading down the aisle.

How to Stay Debt-Free

Small steps you can take to stay out of debt.

Does This Smell Bad to You? How Long Foods Last

Tips on how to save money by not wasting food.

10 Items Whose Prices Have Jumped the Most in the Past 10 Years

Gasoline, college tuition and…eggs?

Have a Debt Talk Before ‘I Do’

Before walking down the aisle, find out where you both stand on past, present and future debt.

How to Approach Aging Parents’ Mental Decline

Advice on how to deal with parents’ compromised financial situations in a sensitive manner.

Will the new credit score change your life?

YCS4 coverIn case you missed them, here are some of the issues I’ve been writing about recently:

A much-heralded new version of the VantageScore could offer big benefits to consumers, but only if lenders actually start to use it. Read all about it in “New credit score could change lives.”

HSAs still aren’t a household acronym, but more companies are offering these health care accounts–and yours might be next. For the right people, HSAs can be a way to supercharge your retirement savings since they allow you to invest unused cash contributions in stocks. But you also run the risk of having the market wipe out your health care funds right when you need them. Read “Should you invest health care funds?” for more.

Divorce doesn’t necessarily separate your credit obligations, and a vengeful or oblivious ex can really mess up your credit. Learn what you should know before and after your split in “Don’t let your ex trash your credit.”

Are you giving identity thieves the clues they need to hack into your life? If you use social media, the answer may be yes. Read “Secrets you should yank off Facebook now.”

Soon-to-be ex wants cash-out refinance

Dear Liz: My soon-to-be ex wants to refinance our mortgage to pay for renovations so we can sell it for more money. He also wants to take out some cash to pay off unsecured loans. (I have $11,000 in credit card debt, and he has over $50,000.) The house recently appraised for $310,000 and we owe $158,000 on it. Is it wise to refinance in this circumstance?

Answer: A cash-out refinance would be a risky maneuver even if you intended to stay married. Renovations rarely boost a home sale price enough to cover their cost. Also, home equity that’s used to pay off credit card bills is often wasted, since the borrower never fixes the problem that led to overspending in the first place and simply runs up more debt. Since he would be getting the bulk of the benefit by having more of his debt paid off, you also would need to adjust the rest of your property settlement.

Often, the best and easiest solution in a divorce is to simply sell the house. You certainly wouldn’t want to remain on a mortgage with an ex after the divorce was final, if you could possibly avoid it. A good divorce attorney can give you advice about how to proceed from here.