Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 ways to rebuild your retirement savings later in life. Also in the news: What you need to know about stock dividend reinvestment plans, the true story of young adults who are totally debt free, and how to boost your retirement fund with a few minor lifestyle changes.

5 Ways to Rebuild Retirement Savings Later in Life
It’s never too late to start saving,

Stock Dividend Reinvestment Plans: What You Should Know
Reinvesting your dividends.

These Young Adults Are Totally Debt-Free — True Story
How they live debt-free.

Boost Your Retirement Fund With These Minor Lifestyle Changes
Small changes that can add up over time.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to build your ‘Oh, Crap!’ fund. Also in the news: A strategy that could help new grads retire sooner, United Airlines sets a new pet transport policy, and what happens to your debts when you die.

How to Build Your ‘Oh, Crap!’ Fund
Don’t get caught empty-handed.

New Grads, This Strategy Could Mean Retiring Sooner
Doesn’t that sound nice?

United Airlines Sets New Pet Transport Policy
The policy will ban dozens of dog breeds from being transported in cargo.

What Happens to Your Debts When You Die
They don’t disappear.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Need a gift for a college graduate? Consider a Roth IRA. Also in the news: An Olympian’s victory versus debt, how to tackle common home worries with a plan, and the best jobs to have when the economy tanks.

Need a Gift for a College Graduate? Consider a Roth IRA
A gift that will keep on giving.

How I Ditched Debt: An Olympian’s Medal-Worthy Juggling Act
Winning the gold in paying off debt.

Tackle This Common Home Worry With a Plan
Don’t let repairs catch you off-guard.

The best jobs to have when the economy tanks
Is your job economy-proof?

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Beat the retiree crowds to these 5 places abroad. Also in the news: Better options for student loan repayments, the pros and cons of travel loans, and why millennials are piling up debt to keep up with their friends.

Beat the Retiree Crowds to These 5 Places Abroad
Before they become popular.

Student Loans: Are You Making Repayment Harder?
Finding better options.

Fly Now, Pay Later: Are Travel Loans a Good Deal?
Convenience comes at a cost.

Millennials Pile Up Debt To Keep Up With Their Friends, Survey Finds
FOMO.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 ways to curb your online shopping enthusiasm. Also in the news: 13 last-ditch ways to avoid the poorhouse in retirement, why you should freeze your child’s credit, and 8 inspirational stories of people who overcame debt.

4 Ways to Curb Your Online Shopping Enthusiasm
Back away from the mouse.

13 Last-Ditch Ways to Avoid the Poorhouse in Retirement
There’s still time.

Why You Should Freeze Your Child’s Credit
Identity theft starts early.

8 inspirational stories of people who overcame debt
Learning from those who have been there.

Q&A: Managing debt with credit counseling

Dear Liz: I contacted a company to help me resolve my debt. They present themselves as a nonprofit organization and seem to offer a possible solution by reducing the interest rate I’m paying on my credit cards. How do I determine the trustworthiness of this and other such organizations?

Answer: If the organization is affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, then it’s a legitimate credit counseling agency. These agencies offer debt management plans that typically allow people to pay off their credit card debt over three to five years at reduced interest rates. People enrolled in the plans make monthly payments to the counseling agency, which then distributes the money to the creditors. Fees vary by agency, but the cost to set up a plan is typically less than $50 and the monthly fee around $35.

Debt management plans are not loans or debt consolidation. They’re also not a way to settle your debt for less than you owe. They’re a potential solution for people to pay off what they owe over several years.

Credit counseling got a bad name in the 1990s when a bunch of companies masquerading as nonprofits got into the business of offering debt management plans. Many siphoned off money that was meant for creditors or failed to pay creditors at all. The IRS cracked down and cleared out many of the worst offenders.

You can visit www.nfcc.org to see if the agency is listed and to get its contact information. (It’s best to get the information directly from NFCC, just in case you’re dealing with a copycat.)

Before you sign up with a credit counselor, though, you also should consult with a bankruptcy attorney. Credit counselors may try to steer you away from bankruptcy, and you’ll want an attorney to review your situation to help you understand if bankruptcy may be a better option.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Love that home’s view? See how much more you’ll pay. Also in the news: 3 months, 3 housing trends, how one woman ditched her debt, and how to get rid of bad marks on your credit report.

Love That Home’s View? See How Much More You’ll Pay
Comes at a cost.

3 Months, 3 Housing Trends: Seller’s Market, Higher Rates, HELOC Comeback
The 2018 housing market so far.

How I Ditched Debt: Tenacious Focus on the Goal
One woman’s triump over debt.

How to Get Rid of Bad Marks on Your Credit Report
Fighting back.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How your money story can help you break free. Also in the news: Why you should freeze your child’s credit, 4 things that could make you a target for a tax audit, and what happens if you don’t pay a debt.

How Your Money Story Can Help You Break Free
Going way back to the beginning.

Why You Should Freeze Your Child’s Credit
Even children can be victim’s of identity theft.

4 Things That Could Make You a Target for a Tax Audit
Don’t leave yourself vulnerable.

What Happens if You Don’t Pay a Debt?
Nothing good.

When your parents die broke

Blogger John Schmoll’s father left a financial mess when he died: a house that was worth far less than the mortgage, credit card bills in excess of $20,000_and debt collector s who insisted the son was legally obligated to pay what his father owed.

Fortunately, Schmoll knew better.

“I’ve been working in financial services for two decades,” says Schmoll, an Omaha, Nebraska, resident who was a stockbroker before starting his site, Frugal Rules. “I knew that I wasn’t responsible.”

Baby boomers are expected to transfer trillions to their heirs in coming years. But many people will inherit little more than a pile of bills. In my latest for the Associated Press, what to do when your parents leave behind debt.

Q&A: The reasons behind falling credit score

Dear Liz: Please explain to me how one’s credit depreciates. After paying off my home, my credit score went from mid-700 to mid-600. There were no changes or inquiries. I built it back up to 734, got into a tight spot and took a loan from my bank. I just checked the score again and now it’s 687. I have not been late or missed a payment. I thought keeping current on all payments and in some cases paying more would help, but it’s not. I need some help and direction.

Answer: We’ll assume that you’ve been monitoring the same type of score from the same credit bureau. (You don’t have just one credit score, you have many, and they can vary quite a bit depending on the credit bureau report on which they’re based and the formula used.)

Paying off a mortgage could have a minor negative impact on your credit scores if that was your only installment loan. Credit score formulas typically reward you for having a mix of installment loans and revolving accounts, such as credit cards.

But the drop shouldn’t have been that big. Something else probably triggered the decline, such as an unusually large balance on one of your credit cards.

Scoring formulas are sensitive to how much of your available credit you’re using, so you may be able to restore points by paying down your debt if you carry a balance or charging less if you pay in full each month. There’s no advantage to carrying a balance, by the way, so it’s better to pay off your cards every month.