Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

r218451_854528Today’s top story: How to keep calm and carry on in a volatile market. Also in the news: Why paying off your debt could hurt your mortgage chances, what the Super Bowl can teach you about money, and how your 2015 IRA contribution can hurt 2016-2017 college aid.

5 Ways to Keep Calm, Carry On in Volatile Market
Don’t panic.

Why Paying Off Debt Could Actually Hurt Your Homebuying Chances
Strategic debt management.

What the Super Bowl Can Teach You About Money
The game off the field.

Your 2015 IRA Contribution Will Hurt Your Kid’s College Aid In 2016-2017
Find out how.

What to Do When You’ve Hit a Plateau With Your Money Goals
How to break through.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Credit report with score on a desk

Credit report with score on a desk

Today’s top story: Why students missed out on nearly $3 billion dollars in financial aid. Also in the news: Things on your credit report that look like errors, but might not be, how to protect your loved ones from financial elder abuse, and how to protect inherited IRA assets from creditors via a trust.

3 Things on Your Credit Report That Look Like Errors, But Might Not Be
Analyzing your report.

Why students missed out on $2.7 billion in financial aid last year
The FAFSA is essential.

How to Protect Your Loved Ones (and Yourself) From Financial Elder Abuse
Protecting their assets.

Protect Inherited IRA Assets From Creditors With a Trust
Keeping your inheritance.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to get your credit card’s annual fee to pay for itself. Also in the news: Balancing debt reduction and retirement savings, money lessons to teach your kids, and why you should check your FAFSA status.

How to Get Your Credit Card’s Annual Fee to Pay for Itself
Getting the most out of your credit card.

How to Balance Debt Reduction and Retirement Savings
You can do both.

4 Money Lessons Smart Parents Teach Their Kids
It’s never too early to start teaching them.

How and Why to Check Your FAFSA Status
Staying on top of the financial aid process.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

321562-data-breachesToday’s top story: The worst online passwords of 2015. Also in the news: Why you should beware of the word “afford,” how to start saving for your retirement in your 20s and 30s, and steps to get more college financial aid.

The Worst Passwords of 2015
Stop making life easy for identity thieves.

Be Suspicious of the Word “Afford” to Keep Your Budget Balanced
Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you should buy it.

6 Steps to Saving for Retirement in Your 20s and 30s
It’s never too early to start saving.

3 Steps to More College Financial Aid From FAFSA
The sooner you fill out the form, the better.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

images (2)Today’s top story: How to make your retirement savings last. Also in the news: Why it pays to file your FAFSA early, how to survive rising health care costs, and how the Rule of 72 can help you build your retirement savings.

The Easy Way to Make Your Retirement Savings Last
Stretching your savings.

It Pays to File Your FAFSA Early
You could receive twice as much financial aid.

10 Ways to Survive Rising Health Care Costs
Keeping costs in check.

How the Rule of 72 Can Help You Build Up Your Retirement Nest Egg
Building your savings.

Is a FICO Score the Best Credit Score?
Does your FICO score tell the whole story?

Q&A: College savings strategy

Dear Liz: I will be 66 in May 2016. My wife is 68 and retired. She began receiving Social Security when she turned 66. I am still working, making a high six-figure income, and will continue to do so until I reach 70, when my Social Security benefit reaches its maximum. I plan to use my Social Security earnings to save for my grandchildren’s college educations (unless an emergency occurs and we need the income). I want to maximize the amount that I can give them. What is the best strategy, taking into consideration the recent change in Social Security rules relating to “claim now, claim more later”?

Answer: You just missed the April 29 cutoff for being able to “file and suspend.” Before the rules changed, you could have filed your application at full retirement age (66) and immediately suspended it. That would allow your benefit to continue growing while giving you the option to change your mind and get a lump-sum payout dating back to your application date.

Since Congress did away with file-and-suspend for people who turn 66 after April 30, that option is off the table for you. There are other ways to maximize your household benefit, said economist Laurence Kotlikoff, author of “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security.” They include:

•Your wife suspends her benefit and lets it grow for another two years, then restarts getting checks when she turns 70.

•At 66, you file for a spousal benefit. People who are 62 or older by the end of this year retain the ability to file a “restricted application” for spousal benefits only once they turn 66. That option is not available to younger people, who will be given the larger of their spousal benefits or their own benefits when they apply.

•At 70, you switch to your own, maxed-out benefit. Again, the ability to switch from spousal to one’s own benefit is going away, but you still have the option to do this.

Consider saving in a 529 college savings plan, which offers tax advantages while allowing you to retain control of the money. You can even withdraw the money for your own use if necessary, although you would pay income taxes and a 10% federal penalty on any earnings.

You should know, however, that college-savings plans owned by grandparents can mess with financial aid. Plans owned by grandparents aren’t factored into initial financial aid calculations, but any disbursements are counted as income that can negatively affect future awards. One workaround is to wait until Jan. 1 of the child’s junior year, when financial aid forms will no longer be a consideration, and pay for all qualified education expenses from that point on.

Obviously, you won’t have to worry about this if your grandchildren wouldn’t qualify for financial aid anyway. If your children also make six-figure incomes, that’s likely to be the case.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Financial tips for the unexpectedly unemployed. Also in the news: The real costs of using a payday loan for holiday shopping, everything you need to know about the 2016 FAFSA, and what you should do with your year-end bonus.

Financial Tips For The Unexpectedly Unemployed
Don’t panic.

What It Really Costs to Use Payday Loans for Holiday Shopping
The interest rates could shock you.

FAFSA Application: Everything You Need to Know in 2016
Preparing for financial aid madness.

What to Do (and Not to Do) With Your Year-End Bonus
Resist temptation!

College scholarships aren’t free money

types-of-scholarshipsIt is National Scholarship Month, which means high school seniors are being exhorted to scoop up free money for college.

What they are often not told is that scholarships won from corporations, non-profits and other “outside” sources can reduce — dollar for dollar — the grants and cost-reducing financial aid they might get from colleges.

In my latest for Reuters, why college scholarships can put students who need financial aid at a disadvantage.

In my latest for Bankrate, how women can reduce the odds of ending up old and broke.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to determine when to start taking Social Security. Also in the news: Tips for getting approved for a personal loan, what to buy and not buy in November, and five surprising sources of debt.

When to start Social Security? This tool can tell you
Getting the most from your benefits.

4 Tips for Getting Approved for a Personal Loan
Applying wisely.

What to Buy (and Not to Buy) in November
Strategic shopping.

5 Surprising Sources of Debt
Nipping them in the bud.

Federal Lawsuit Alleges Financial Aid Deception Targeting Students, Parents
Apply with care.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

22856641_SAToday’s top story: College financial aid advice for divorced families. Also in the news: Getting teens to save can have a long term payoff, bad money habits you need to break, and how to make living on a budget less of a slog.

College Financial Aid Advice For Divorced Families
Navigating through the financial aid maze.

Why Teen Savers Have More Financial Success Later in Life
Good financial habits at a young age can have lasting effects.

3 Bad Money Habits You Should Finally Kick
Kick them to the curb!

Peppy ways to fight budget burnout
Living on a budget doesn’t have to be drudgery.