Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to know if paying for money advice is paying off. Also in the news: 5 inconvenient truths about real estate agents, the 10 fastest-growing metro areas, and Millennials are loading up on personal loans.

How to Know If Paying for Money Advice Is Paying Off
Calculating your return on investment.

5 Inconvenient Truths About Real Estate Agents
What to know before hiring one.

Home Affordability Watch: The 10 Fastest-Growing Metro Areas
The 10 fastest-growing metro areas, ranked from most to least affordable.

Not just student loans: Millennials are also loading up on this kind of debt
Personal loans are a favorite of this generation.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 12 freebies and deals for Tax Day 2018. Also in the news: 3 ways parents can help grown kids own a home, why your parents’ financial advice is probably wrong (for you), and what you should know about getting an advance on your tax refund.

12 Freebies and Deals for Tax Day 2018
A little something to ease the pain.

3 Ways Parents Can Help Grown Kids Own a Home
Ground rules are important.

Your Parents’ Financial Advice Is Probably Wrong (for You)
However well-intentioned.

Thinking about getting an advance on your tax refund? Here’s what you should know
Watch for hidden fees.

Q&A: You need a planner for personalized advice

Dear Liz: I have five questions. I have enclosed five sheets of paper with each question printed at the top. Please feel free to simply write your advice on each page, and then insert them into the addressed and stamped envelope I have enclosed. This is my attempt to make it easy for you to respond.

Answer: Thank you, but it’s not the lack of paper or a stamp that prevents columnists from replying to private inquiries. Questions of general interest may be answered here, but you’ll need to seek out a financial advisor for personalized advice.

You have many options for finding fiduciary, fee-only advisors. Fee-only advisors accept fees only from clients rather than accepting commissions or other compensation based on products the advisors recommend. Fiduciaries are advisors who promise to put clients’ best interests first. The following organizations can connect you to fee-only advisors who are fiduciaries:

—The National Assn. of Personal Financial Advisors. NAPFA advisors must be certified financial planners (CFPs). Many NAPFA planners charge a percentage of the assets they manage (called an “assets under management” or AUM fee) and have minimum asset requirements, although some charge hourly or retainer fees. A typical fee is around 1% of assets under management.

—XY Planning Network. Advisors must be CFPs and offer the option of flat monthly fees, although they may offer other arrangements including hourly or AUM fees. Monthly fees are typically $100 to $200, with some planners charging an initial fee of $1,000 to $2,000.

—The Garrett Planning Network. Planners must be CFPs or on track to get the designation, or CPAs who have the personal financial specialist (PFS) credential. Hourly fees usually range from $150 to $300.

—Assn. for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. This group offers two credentials for advisors: accredited financial counselor (AFC) and financial fitness coach (FFC). Both focus on helping middle- and lower-income people get a handle on the basics, including budgeting, debt management and retirement planning. Counselors work with clients in financial crisis or who need help with spending plans, eliminating debt, building savings and improving financial stability, said Rebecca Wiggins, the association’s executive director. Coaches focus more on helping clients understand how effective money management can help them achieve life goals, with a focus on changing financial behavior using goal setting, accountability and monitoring, Wiggins says. Many counselors and coaches work for the military, credit unions or other organizations and offer their services free or at reduced cost. Coaches and counselors who have private practices typically charge $100 to $150, but many work on a sliding scale.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 blunders to avoid when doing your own taxes. Also in the news: What to do if your W-2 is missing, 6 key investing concepts, and why there’s no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to money.

Doing Your Own Taxes? Pros Say Avoid These 4 Blunders
Getting it right the first time.

What to Do If Your W-2 Is MIA
You have options.

6 Investing Key Concepts — in Plain English
Understanding the basics.

Don’t Let the Fear of Looking Stupid Lead to Money Mistakes
There’s no such thing as a dumb question.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 signs you’re getting bad financial advice. Also in the news: What a financial advisor does, how Roth IRAs can help in an emergency, and why Wells Fargo customer should check their bank accounts.

5 Signs You’re Getting Bad Financial Advice
Who’s really looking out for you?

What Does a Financial Advisor Do?
Reaching your financial goals.

How Roth IRAs Can Help in an Emergency
An emergency backup fund.

Wells Fargo Customers Should Check Their Bank Accounts
There’s been a “glitch.”

What good financial advice looks like

Good financial advice can help you achieve your life goals. Bad financial advice can cost you a fortune and leave you worse off than if you had tried to go it alone.

Unfortunately, you’re still on your own in trying to determine the good advice from the bad. The U.S. Department of Labor has delayed key portions of a fiduciary rule that would require financial advisers to put their retirement account clients’ interests first. The provisions are set to begin July 1, 2019, but it’s anyone’s guess if that will happen.

In my latest for the Associated Press, why it’s still a buyer-beware market for financial advice.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How not to go broke attending holiday parties. Also in the news: Self-taught financial advisers keep it real about money, how to determine if your taxes are going up, and how to spend your extra FSA money.

You Don’t Have to Go Broke Attending Holiday Parties
Having fun without breaking the bank.

Self-taught financial advisers keep it real about money management
Knowing your limits.

My Taxes Probably Are Going Up. Are Yours?
How to determine next year’s taxes.

How to Spend Your Extra FSA Money
The clock is ticking.

Are you paying too much for financial advice?

Investment management can cost as little as 0.25 percent of a portfolio’s value each year. Yet many people still pay 1 percent, or even more, for financial advice.

Whether they’re getting a good deal depends on exactly what they get in exchange. Spoiler alert: Many should be getting a lot more, or paying a lot less.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to determine if you’re paying too much or getting a good deal on financial advice.

When good money advice is bad for you

Discussing economic class is tricky in America, but the working and middle classes face vastly different financial challenges than upper-income families, and the gaps are growing wider. Good money advice for high earners could be lousy for low earners, and vice versa.

For example, certified financial planners recommend saving a three-month emergency fund before tackling other money goals.

That advice can make sense for affluent families — those who can afford a financial planner — since high earners often have enough discretionary income to create an emergency fund quickly. For families living paycheck to paycheck, the same advice could be an expensive mistake.

In my latest for the Associated Press, why good money advice isn’t one size fits all.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Credit report with score on a desk

Today’s top story: How ‘Pay for Delete’ might help your credit – if you’re lucky. Also in the news: 19 less-obvious wedding costs to bake into your budget, why financial advice is still important regardless of your income, and how to make sure you’re not going to an Equifax phishing site.

‘Pay for Delete’ Might Help Your Credit — If You’re Lucky
Negotiating with a creditor.

19 Less-Obvious Wedding Costs to Bake Into Your Budget
Budgeting the entire package.

Not Made of Money? Financial Advice Is Still for You
You don’t need to be to rich.

Make Sure You’re Not Going to an Equifax Phishing Site
Don’t make matters worse.