Monday’s need-to-know money news

Credit card backgroundToday’s top story: Planning for Black Friday. Also in the news: How the CARD ACT saved consumers billions, five factors that could increase your insurance rates, and three tax moves you should make before the end of the year.

Score on Black Friday by doing research now
Developing a plan of attack could save you a lot of money.

CARD Act Helped Consumers Without Limiting Credit Access
Saving consumers over $20 billion a year.

5 Factors That Could Raise Your Insurance Rates
You might want to put out that cigarette.

3 Tax Moves to Make Before the End of Year
It’s time to get your investments in order.

DHS Secretary warns of Obamacare scams
Your personal information could be at risk.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailHow many credit cards is too many, starting your kids on the road to financial success, and what it’s like to apply for Obamacare.

How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?
The answer may surprise you.

Smart Financial Moves for Fall
Ways to boost your finances in between pumpkin spice lattes.

Home Improvement Projects Every Seller Should Consider
These projects could increase the number of offers you receive on your home.

Want Your Child To Succeed? A Savings Account May Help
How even a small savings account could set your child on the road to financial success.

Obamacare marketplaces are open: How to apply
A reporter shares her experience of applying for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Credit Check 1 How to cure your financial jealousy, steps to improve your credit score, and understanding the Affordable Care Act.

How to Combat Financial Envy
The greener grass isn’t always the better grass.

5 Budget Busters Draining Your Wallet
Simple changes to monthly expenses could make a big difference.

5 Steps to Improving Your Credit Score
Paying attention to your credit reports are key.

4 Ways to Build Credit Without a Credit Card
Loans can be a big help.

Obamacare 101: Your Questions Answered
Understanding the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailHow your addiction to pop culture could put your identity at risk, saving on holiday travel, and when is the right time to kick your kid off of your health insurance?

How Your Katy Perry Obsession Could Get You Hacked
Hackers love the pop culture obsessed.

Our Financial Future: How Banking and Money Will Change
Could bank tellers be replaced by smartphones?

5 tips on selling a home on your own
The pros and cons of selling your home without a real estate agent.

How to Save on Holiday Airfares
What better gift to give yourself than saving on holiday travel?

When to kick your adult child off your health plan
Weighing the options offered by the Affordable Care Act.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

How Boomers should prepare for Obamacare, the right time to purchase life insurance, and how to keep scammers away from your grandparents’ life savings.

Credit Check 1Six Things Boomers Need to Know About Obamacare
Enrollment begins on October 1st.

Knowing When You Need Life Insurance
It’s likely sooner than you think.

Your Kids And Money: Teaching The Value Of A Dollar
Can giving your child an allowance teach them financial responsibility?

Will Making Minimum Payments Damage Your Credit Score?
Understanding the formulation of your credit score.

The Good News: Your Grandson Isn’t In Peruvian Prison. The Bad News: You Just Lost $250K
Protecting Grandma and Grandpa from scammers.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

School Kids DiversityWhy joint accounts aren’t always a good thing, how to raise financially savvy kids, and the psychology behind overspending.

4 Ways Joint Accounts Can Ruin Your Credit
Sharing isn’t always a good thing.

7 Personal Finance Tools Every Kid Should Have
Starting your kids off on the right financial foot.

ABCs of Obamacare: a glossary for consumers
Become familiar with the Affordable Care Act.

How to Know You’re Ready for Retirement
Preparing for one of life’s biggest transitions.

3 Reasons You Overspend
What makes us spend the way that we do?

Money advice for the self-employed

Dog walkerIf you’re self-employed, you’ve probably noticed that standard money advice often falls short.

A lot of what you read assumes you receive regular, predictable paychecks with taxes already withheld and benefits covered. Just try finding advice to deal with the following:

  • A major customer abruptly changes payment policies, so that five-figure check you’re counting on to pay the bills lands weeks later than you expected.
  • Your health insurer announces your premiums will increase 39%, and your insurance broker tells you that no other company will cover you for less…or at all.
  • Congress dithers on renewing a key tax break, so your CPA advises (at Christmastime) that you’ll need to cough up thousands more dollars to make yourself “penalty proof.”

These aren’t hypotheticals. Each has happened to me as a small business owner. Predicting income and expenses when you run your own show is often as much art as science. When you’re providing your own benefits, handling your own taxes and doing your own billing, your financial life becomes complex in a way that would confound most of the W-2 world.

This is what has helped me:

A business line of credit. Excellent credit scores helped me land a low-rate line of credit when I opened my business checking and savings accounts. I relied on it heavily when I was getting started to cover those inevitable gaps in cash flow (translation: slow-paying customers). I still use it occasionally to deal with unexpected expenses; I don’t carry a balance for a day longer than necessary, but I’d rather pay a few bucks in tax-deductible interest for a few days than keep a huge wad sitting idle in a business savings account.

A tax pro. I don’t write about taxes often, and almost never about business taxes. So why would I waste time trying to keep abreast of business tax law and struggling to do my own taxes when I can hire someone? Especially since that someone lives and breathes taxes, and can be counted on to represent me in an audit. We small business owners often have trouble delegating, but we’re far better off spending our time making money than wrestling with tax forms.

A simple rule of thumb. Early on, a CPA said he could bill me to make some elaborate projections, but he suggested a simpler way: save half. If I put aside half of every check that came in, I’d be able to cover my taxes and expenses. Ten years later I have a much better handle on cash flow, but it still pretty much boils down to saving half of what comes in.

If you’re an entrepreneur, I highly recommend “The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System for People with Not-So-Regular Jobs Paperback” by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan, two freelancers who through trial-and-error figured out a money system that really works.

Will the new credit score change your life?

YCS4 coverIn case you missed them, here are some of the issues I’ve been writing about recently:

A much-heralded new version of the VantageScore could offer big benefits to consumers, but only if lenders actually start to use it. Read all about it in “New credit score could change lives.”

HSAs still aren’t a household acronym, but more companies are offering these health care accounts–and yours might be next. For the right people, HSAs can be a way to supercharge your retirement savings since they allow you to invest unused cash contributions in stocks. But you also run the risk of having the market wipe out your health care funds right when you need them. Read “Should you invest health care funds?” for more.

Divorce doesn’t necessarily separate your credit obligations, and a vengeful or oblivious ex can really mess up your credit. Learn what you should know before and after your split in “Don’t let your ex trash your credit.”

Are you giving identity thieves the clues they need to hack into your life? If you use social media, the answer may be yes. Read “Secrets you should yank off Facebook now.”