Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 keys to successful debt consolidation. Also in the news: Credit card startups want to get in your wallet, financial must-do’s for newlyweds, and the best ways to get a big credit card bonus without going into debt.

4 Keys to Successful Debt Consolidation
Put those cards away.

Credit Card Startups Race for Space in Your Wallet
One card to rule them all.

Ask Brianna: What Are My Financial Must-Do’s as a Newlywed?
Starting off on the right financial foot.

The best ways to get a fat credit card bonus without going into debt
Timing is everything.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Fed point fingers as ‘Debt Relief’ companies prey on student loan borrowers. Also in the news: Distressed borrowers say student debt help was anything but, why investors care about rate hikes, and why your credit cards shouldn’t retire when you do.

Feds Point Fingers as ‘Debt Relief’ Companies Prey on Student Loan Borrowers
Looking for easy targets.

Distressed Borrowers Say Student Debt Help Was Anything But
Compounding a problem.

Why Investors Care About the Fed (and Rate Hikes)
The impact on investments.

Credit hit: Why your credit cards shouldn’t retire when you do
Building credit is still important.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How credit card bonuses got so big and hard to grab. Also in the news: VA Loan eligibility and requirements for 2017, how to detect scams that could ruin your retirement, and 10 numbers that may make or break your retirement.

How Credit Card Bonuses Got So Big and Hard to Grab
And you thought blackout dates were bad.

VA Loan Eligibility and Requirements for 2017
What you need to know.

How to Detect Scams That Could Ruin Your Retirement
Don’t put your savings at risk.

10 numbers that can make or break your retirement
Focus on the important ones.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to dodge scams and time-wasters in the online job market. Also in the news: Credit card bonuses are drifting further away, how job hopping can hurt Millennials in retirement, and how to fraud-proof your retirement savings.

Online Jobs: How to Dodge Scams and Time-Wasters
Don’t get taken for a ride.

As Credit Card Bonuses Balloon, They Drift Further Away
Bigger isn’t necessarily better in this case.

Job Hopping Can Hurt Millennials in Retirement
The 401(k) game.

6 ways to fraud-proof your retirement savings
Protecting your savings.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: NerdWallet’s best credit card tips for May 2017. Also in the news: VA loan funding fees, the best banks for multiple savings accounts, and 401(k) myths you can’t afford to believe.

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for May 2017
Which cards you should be considering.

VA Loan Funding Fee: What You’ll Pay and Why in 2017
Don’t be caught off-guard.

Need Multiple Savings Accounts? Here’s Where to Bank
Which banks offer the most bang for your bucks.

401(k) myths you can’t afford to believe
Time for some myth busting.

Q&A: You don’t need to carry debt in order to have good credit

Dear Liz: You should tell people that they can help their credit score more by not paying their credit card bills in full each month. By not paying in full, but paying the minimum or more each month, it shows the card issuer that you can handle credit wisely and encourages them to raise the limit. This pushes the utilization down.

Answer: There’s nothing wise about carrying credit card debt. The idea that you need to carry a balance to have good scores is a stupid, expensive myth that needs to die.

People who spread this myth don’t understand how balances are reported to the credit bureaus and subsequently used in credit scores. Credit card issuers typically don’t report your balance on the day after you pay your bill. They may report your last statement balance, or the balance on a certain day each month. That’s the balance that credit score formulas have long used to calculate your scores. The scoring formulas traditionally couldn’t see whether or not you carried a balance from month to month, so there was no reason to do so and incur expensive interest.

Recent credit reporting changes will make carrying a balance an even worse idea. Some card issuers have started reporting payment patterns — essentially telling the bureaus which people consistently pay their balances in full and which don’t. That’s because research has shown that people who pay off their credit card bills are significantly less likely to default than those who carry a balance. Mortgage lenders already are considering this information when making loans, even though it’s not something that factors into the credit scores most of them currently use.

Although there’s no advantage to carrying a balance, there is a huge advantage to lightly but regularly using the credit cards you have. That’s what actually shows scoring formulas and lenders that you can responsibly manage credit.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 keys to budgeting as a freelancer. Also in the news: What you can learn about saving from a former big spender, why small business owners should offer pension plans, and what you need to know about credit cards when you travel abroad.

3 Keys to Budgeting as a Freelancer
Keeping a steady budget without steady income.

What You Can Learn About Saving From a Former Big Spender
Tips on what NOT to do.

Why Small-Business Owners Should Offer Pension Plans
Battling the retirement savings crisis.

What you need to know about credit cards when you travel abroad
Watch out for fees.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 questions to answer before taking out student loans. Also in the news: Debt collection goes high-tech, 7 alternative ways to pay your taxes, and credit card rental insurance doesn’t cover as much as you think.

3 Questions to Answer Before Taking Out Student Loans
Important things to consider.

From Stone Age to Drone Age: Debt Collection Goes High-Tech
Send in the drones!

7 Alternative Ways to Pay Your Taxes
Thinking outside the box.

Credit Card Car Rental Insurance Doesn’t Cover as Much as You Think
Reading the fine print.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: April 18th isn’t just the tax-filing deadline. Also in the news: Why so many credit cards are from Delaware, how to file a tax extension online, and lowering your tax bill with IRA contributions.

April 18 Isn’t Just the Tax-Filing Deadline
Other items to add to your to-do list.

Why So Many Credit Cards Are From Delaware
The answer may surprise you.

How to File a Tax Extension Online
Don’t delay when you need more time.

Reminder: You Have Until Tomorrow to Lower Your Tax Bill With IRA Contributions
Tick-tock.

Q&A: What to do about heavy credit card debt

Dear Liz: I have a lot of credit card debt and am just able to make minimum payments. I feel like after doing this for four years now that I am not getting ahead. I will be 61 this summer and don’t have much saved for retirement. My rent keeps going up along with other expenses. I have an 11-year-old car that is in need of maintenance but don’t have the funds to do it. My question is, what would happen if I walk away from the credit card debt? Will I be facing garnishment?

Answer: Yes, you could be sued and face wage garnishment if you simply stopped paying your debts.

You could consider a debt management plan offered through a credit counselor, which could lower the interest rates you pay. You can get referrals from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at www.nfcc.org. But you’d be making payments for the next five years or so, when you could be putting that cash toward your retirement.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy, by contrast, would take a few months and legally erase your credit card debt to give you a fresh start. Bankruptcy is often the best of bad options when you can’t make progress on your debts. Consider meeting with both a credit counselor and a bankruptcy attorney so you understand all your options.