Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

shutterstock_101159917Today’s top story: How to start married life with extra cash. Also in the news: Credit counseling for new grads, how your brain tricks you into using the wrong credit cards, and the retailers that reward you for recycling your unwanted junk.

5 Ways to Start Married Life With Extra Cash
Giving your marriage a strong financial start.

Credit Counseling for New Grads
Getting your post-college financial house in order.

3 Ways Your Brain Tricks You Into Using the Wrong Credit Cards (And What You Can Do About It)
Keeping the right cards at the top of your wallet.

The Retailers That Reward You for Recycling Your Unwanted Junk
Better for the planet and for your wallet.

Q&A: ‘Stay at home’ credit card isn’t foolproof

Dear Liz: Regarding updating automatic payments when a credit card is replaced, I have found that using a separate credit card that never leaves home for automatic payments is a good idea. It’s very unlikely that this “stay at home” card would get hacked like a card I use in stores or ATMs. Does this seem like a good idea?

Answer: The security advantage of hiding a card at home is “pretty minimal, and approaching zero,” said Bob Sullivan, consumer security expert at BobSullivan.net and author of the book “Stop Getting Ripped Off.”

Any credit card can be hacked, as numerous database breaches have shown us. Once you use the card — with a merchant, at an ATM, on the Web or over the phone — you have no control of where its numbers are stored or how secure those databases are.

“The risk that it’s stolen from a database of cards outweighs the risk that a waiter or a compromised machine might steal it,” Sullivan said.

It may be more convenient to monitor automatic payments if they’re all on one card. But if the card is hacked, you’ll still have to reset all those payments.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

bankruptcy_formToday’s top story: Careers that can help you conquer your student debt faster. Also in the news: What a good credit card company will offer people with bad credit, how to pay for bankruptcy when you’re broke, and five apps that automate your money.

Some Careers Can Help You Conquer Student Debt Faster
Kissing your student debts goodbye.

4 Things a Good Credit Card Issuer Will Offer People With Bad Credit
Getting on the path to better credit.

How to Pay for Bankruptcy When You’re Broke
A classic Catch .22

5 apps that automate your money and make you richer
Building your savings a few cents at a time.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

download (1)Today’s top story: Why you should be wary of payday loans for small businesses. Also in the news: NerdWallet’s best credit card tips for October, financial fine-tuning to do before year’s end, and ten ways to make the most of your rewards credit card.

Worries Grow Over ‘Payday Loans for Small Businesses’ — What You Need to Know
Looking out for astronomical interest rates.

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for October 2016
Time to activate your rewards.

Financial fine-tuning you must do before year’s end
Money actions worth considering.

10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Rewards Credit Card
Maximizing your rewards.

Q&A: Paying credit card debt after death

Dear Liz: I am 80 and I have a substantial amount of credit card debt, approximately $30,000. What becomes of this credit card debt in the event of my death? Will it become a future liability for my two sons or will this eventually become a bad debt for the credit card company? I would hate to see this become a financial burden for my sons.

Answer: Any credit card balances you leave behind will be a liability for your estate, not for your sons — although the debt could reduce any inheritance they get. Creditors have to be paid before any remaining assets are distributed. If you don’t have enough assets to cover the bill, creditors will get a proportionate amount of whatever’s left after paying your final expenses. Any remaining debt will be a write-off for the creditor, and your sons typically wouldn’t get anything.

You didn’t ask for help dealing with this debt, but you shouldn’t assume you can just tread water until you die and leave it for someone else to sort out. Your life expectancy at age 80 is another eight years if you’re male and nearly 10 years if you’re female, and you could live considerably longer. If overspending or medical bills led to the debt, you could accrue a lot more before you’re done. If you rack up so much debt that you can’t make the minimum payments, your interest rates could skyrocket and you may have to fend off collection calls.

You should at least discuss your options with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and with a nonprofit credit counselor.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

o-CREDIT-REPORT-facebookToday’s top story: What you need to qualify for a credit card when you have bad credit. Also in the news: How to escape low-yield savings options, how one couple paid off $74,000 of debt in two years, and the building blocks that lead to smart money decisions.

What You Need to Qualify for a Credit Card for Bad Credit
Don’t fall for high fee offers.

How to Escape Low-Yield Bank Savings Options
How to get better returns without increased risk.

How One Couple Paid Off $74,000 in 2 Years
The success of the snowball method.

These Are the ‘Building Blocks’ That Lead to Smart Money Decisions
Teaching kids sound money practices.

Q&A: Effects of closing credit card accounts

Dear Liz: I would like to know how to close credit card accounts and not get a bad credit rating for doing so. We are trying to improve our credit after filing for bankruptcy seven years ago.

Answer: If you’re trying to improve your credit, then avoid closing credit accounts. Doing so can’t help your scores and may hurt them. Credit-scoring formulas are sensitive to how much of your available credit you’re using. The formulas like to see a wide gap between your credit limits and the amount you charge, both on individual cards and in the aggregate. When you close an account, you reduce your available credit, which narrows that gap and can ding your scores.

If you want to speed up your recovery from the bankruptcy, continue using the cards lightly but regularly and paying the balances in full every month. Make sure to pay all your bills on time so that a skipped payment doesn’t undo all the progress you’ve made. Review your credit reports and dispute any errors, including accounts that were included in the bankruptcy but are still showing up as active debts.

That doesn’t mean you can never close unwanted credit accounts. You just don’t want to do so now, or when you’re in the market for a major loan. You can close an account or two once your scores are in the high 700s on the 300-to-850 FICO scale and you don’t plan to apply for credit in the near future.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

FICO-score-calculation-300x281Today’s top story: Applying for the wrong credit cards can make bad credit worse. Also in the news: Store reward programs worthwhileness, preschoolers and personal finance, and the #1 cause of financial stress in your state.

Applying for the Wrong Credit Cards Can Just Make Bad Credit Worse
Be selective.

Are Store Rewards Programs Worthwhile?
Only if you’ll actually use the benefits.

Should Preschoolers Be Taught Personal Finance?
It’s never too early to start.

This is the No. 1 cause of financial stress in your state
Odds are pretty good your state is worried about debt.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Pile of Credit CardsToday’s top story: What yo look for in a credit card for bad credit. Also in the news: How to decide whether you should save, invest, or pay off student loans, how to spend less money in your 20s, and why next year’s tax refund might be late.

What to Look for in a Credit Card for Bad Credit
Pay close attention to fees.

Should I Save, Invest or Pay off Student Loans?
Using your money wisely.

10 Ways to Spend Less in Your 20s
The more you can save the better.

Adjust Your Withholding Now Because Next Year’s Tax Refund Might Be Late
Be prepared to wait.