Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: A look at the past three months of housing trends. Also in the news: A new app to help apply for financial aid, how to avoid magical thinking when it comes to retirement planning, and what to know about freezing and unfreezing your credit.

3 Months, 3 Housing Trends: Rates Rise, Prices Slow, Millennials Buy
What’s happening in housing.

Ready to Apply for College Aid? A New App’s on Tap
Financial aid at your fingertips.

Don’t Let Magical Thinking Jinx Retirement Planning
You’re not going to win the lottery.

What to Know About Freezing and Unfreezing Your Credit
Know the pros and cons.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to put your money where your politics are. Also in the news: What not to buy until Black Friday, a stock market outlook for fall, and you can now file your FAFSA from your phone.

How to Put Your Money Where Your Politics Are
Voting with your wallet.

Black Friday Is Coming. Here’s What Not to Buy Until Then
Hold off on those electronics.

Stock Market Outlook: Lessons of the Fall
What to expect this season.

You Can Now File FAFSA from Your Phone
Making FAFSA filing easier.

Why your kid should help pay for college

I recently heard from the parents of yet another high school senior who turned down a huge scholarship from a good college to attend her “dream school,” which of course has lousy financial aid. Now her parents are scrambling, trying to figure out how to pay for it .

This madness must end.

Asking teenagers to pay the whole cost of a four-year college degree probably isn’t realistic or smart. Kids may be cut off from financial aid, since need-based help is largely based on the parents’ resources. The debt they accumulate may be crippling, and students who try to pay for school entirely on their own are more likely to drop out.

But the open bar approach isn’t wise, either. Setting limits and requiring a kid to pay at least part of the cost can actually lead to better grades while protecting parents’ finances.

In my latest for the Associated Press, why parents should set clear boundaries about how much they’ll pay for college.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 great ways to invest your tax refund. Also in the news: How to say no to being a bridesmaid, when to upgrade at the gas pump, and how to decode your financial aid letters.

5 Great Ways to Invest Your Tax Refund
The best ways to put your windfall to good use.

Ask Brianna: How to Say No to Being a Bridesmaid
While keeping your friendship intact.

Premium and ‘Top Tier’ Gas: When to Upgrade at the Pump
When the higher octane is necessary.

How to Decode Your Financial Aid Letters
Deciphering your offers.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Wells Fargo reveals wider abuses. Are you owed money? Also in the news: How to handle credit card bills in an emergency, how much cash do you carry, and a student is accidentally given $1M in financial aid, spends thousands.

Wells Fargo Reveals Wider Abuses: Are You Owed Money?
The scandal widens.

How to Handle Credit Card Bills During an Emergency
What you need to know.

How Much Cash Do You Carry? See How You Compare
A wallet full of cash? Or cards only?

Student accidentally given $1M in financial aid, spends thousands
What could possibly go wrong?

Q&A: What to consider before giving money for law or medical school

Dear Liz: Our daughter is in medical school using scholarships and student loans. We are now in a position to help her out, but worry that financial help might work against her sources of aid. Would it be better to pay some on her outstanding loans, give her money, pay some of her living expenses or put the money into a savings account to give her when she graduates to use towards paying down her debt? The amount we could give her would not be enough to pay for everything each semester, just something to ease her burden. We don’t want to jeopardize her ability to receive aid.

Answer: While nearly all graduate students qualify as independent — which means that parent financial information isn’t required to get aid — some medical and law schools do consider parental assets and income in their calculations.

Your daughter should call her school’s financial aid office anonymously to ask about its policy regarding parental aid, said Lynn O’Shaughnessy, a college financing expert at TheCollegeSolution.com. If your help would hurt, you can use the savings account route but you needn’t wait until she graduates to give her the money. Once she files financial aid forms for her last year, she should be able to accept your largesse without consequence.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Cutting through credit score confusion after the Experian fine. Also in the news: Eat out without biting into your budget, the female faces of student loan debt, and why it’s harder than ever to apply for financial aid.

Cutting Through Credit Score Confusion After Experian Fine
Making sense of it.

Eat Out Without Biting Into Your Budget
It’s all about strategy.

Female Faces of Student Loan Debt
A Women’s History Month feature.

It’s Harder Than Ever to Apply for Student Aid
Finding ways to make the process easier.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

refinancingToday’s top story: How to find and finance bank-owned properties. Also in the news: Tips for handling holiday financial stress, how to have the money talk with your parents, and what to do when financial aid and scholarships don’t fully cover course fees.

How to find and finance bank-owned properties
It’s easier than you might think.

5 tips for handling holiday financial stress
Don’t let stress ruin the holidays.

How to have the ‘money talk’ with your parents
Tackling a difficult subject.

Financial Aid and Scholarships Don’t Always Cover Course Fees
Making sure you can cover your costs.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

phone-scammerToday’s top story: How to tell if that IRS tax collection call is fake. Also in the news: Strategies to maximize your child’s financial aid eligibility, how to lower your cell phone bill, and how to prevent a divorce from ruining your finances.

7 Ways to Tell If That IRS Tax Collections Call Is Fake
Don’t get duped.

Strategies to Maximize Your Child’s Financial Aid Eligibility
Increasing your odds.

4 Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
The telecoms are rich enough.

10 Ways to Prevent a Divorce From Ruining Your Finances
Protecting what’s yours.