Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Brace yourself for higher car insurance rates. Also in the news: Making biweekly mortgage payments, paying down debt with extra payments, and the two stressful views about money half of millennials share.

Brace Yourself for Higher Car Insurance Rates
Why rates continue to climb.

Should You Make Biweekly Mortgage Payments?
What you need to know before switching.

How I Ditched Debt: Extra Payments Became Her Obsession
Chipping away bit by bit.

Half of millennials share two stressful views about money
Student loan debt causes great angst.

Stop counting other people’s money

Your neighbor pulls up in a sweet new ride. Your co-worker announces she’s taking yet another trip abroad. Your best friend upgrades to a bigger house in a better area of town.

You’re pretty sure these people don’t make a lot more than you do.

So how are they able to spend that kind of money?

Maybe they’re up to their ears in debt, or they’re trust fund babies, or they’ll never be able to retire. Or maybe they’ve figured out the secret to money, which is: You can have anything you want. You just can’t have everything.

The new car, that house and that exotic trip are the shiny end results of a series of decisions hidden below the surface. What we don’t see, typically, are the trade-offs – or their consequences.

In my latest for the Associated Press, why you need to focus on your own finances instead of counting other people’s money.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 debt questions you’re afraid to ask. Also in the news: The best accounts for short-term savings, the 10 most-stolen cars and the cost of theft insurance, and what happens when your bank loses a cash deposit.

5 Debt Questions You’re Afraid to Ask
We have the answers.

Best Accounts for Short-Term Savings
It depends on your timeline.

The 10 Most-Stolen Cars and the Cost of Theft Insurance
Is yours on the list?

What Happens When Your Bank Loses a Cash Deposit
Keep copies of everything.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Learning how to ditch debt. Also in the news: How to prepare for the change from corporate career to entrepreneur, how to teach your kids to be better with money than you are, and why Millennials are paying attention to their 401(k)s.

How I Ditched Debt: Making Sense of Cents
Every penny counts.

Corporate Career to Entrepreneur: How to Prep for the Leap
Making a big change.

How to teach your kids to be better with money than you are
Learning from your mistakes.

Millennials may be far from retirement, but think ahead with 401(k)
Planning for the future.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What would you give up to be debt free? Also in the news: What to know about alternative investments, what to buy (and skip) in August, and how money can actually buy happiness.

What Would You Give Up to Be Debt-Free?
Making sacrifices.

Alternative Investments: What to Know Before You Buy
Investments beyond stocks.

What to Buy (and Skip) in August
Preparing for back-to-school.

Yes, you can buy happiness … if you spend it to save time
Spending it the right way.

How debt consolidation can go wrong

Daniel Montville knew a debt consolidation loan wouldn’t solve his financial problems, but the hospice nurse hoped it would give him some breathing room. He had already filed for bankruptcy once, in 2005, and was determined not to do it again.

Montville took out the loan in 2015, but within a year he had fallen behind on its payments and on the payday loans he got to help his daughter, a single mother with four children. The payday lenders all but cleaned out his checking account each time a paycheck landed, leaving little money for necessities. Then his daughter lost her job, and the $5,000 tax refund she had promised to him as repayment went instead to supporting her kids.

“That’s when I wised up and realized this was a no-win situation,” says Montville, 49, of Parma, Ohio. Montville is now repaying his creditors under a five-year Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan.

In my latest for the Associated Press, learn why debt consolidation isn’t always the best idea.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 money tools to save you from yourself. Also in the news: Why paying off debt with retirement money can be dangerous, how to make money selling stuff online, and why you should think twice before giving up financial control at the altar.

3 Money Tools to Save You From Yourself
We could all use a little help.

A High-Wire Act: Paying Off Debt With Retirement Money
A dicey proposition.

How to Make Money Selling Stuff Online
Putting money in your pockets by creating room in your closet.

Think twice before giving up financial control at the altar
Create a balance instead.

Free of debt – with regrets

Stories about how ordinary people pay off debt quickly can be amazing, inspiring — and somewhat deceptive.

These tales often mention the sacrifices debtors made but may gloss over the cost to their quality of life or the misguided choices they made. Becoming debt-free can be a worthy goal, but understanding the pitfalls can keep you from repeating others’ mistakes.

In my latest for the Associated Press, why some folks wish they hadn’t paid off their debt in such a rush.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 questions when shopping for a brokerage account. Also in the news: Is a robo-advisor right for you, why higher prices are squeezing both buyers and renters, and how a wife got her family out of $40,000 in debt.

5 Questions When Shopping for a Brokerage Account
What you need to know.

What Is a Robo-Advisor and Is One Right for You?
A different type of financial advisor.

Higher prices squeezing both renters and would-be homeowners
A housing shortage in parts of America is leading to higher prices.

A ‘good wife’ who secretly got her family $40,000 in debt shares how she climbed back to even
You can climb back, too.

Are you afraid to look at your finances?

Credit counselor Linda Humburg understands why many of her debt-burdened clients don’t want to open their mail. What bothers her, though, is the sheer volume of untouched bills and collection notices that some bring to their first counseling appointments.

“The shoeboxes (full of bills) don’t make my heart drop as much as the grocery bags and garbage bags,” says Humburg, counselor manager for FamilyMeans Financial Solutions in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Not wanting to confront unpaid bills is a perfectly understandable, if unfortunate, reaction to a bad financial situation. And it’s not just people in extreme debt who might be afraid to look. Many people avoid checking their credit scores or using retirement calculators because they’re afraid of what they might find.

The problem is that delaying action usually makes matters worse.

In my latest for the Associated Press, the high cost of living in denial.