Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 6 ways the tax plan could change homeownership. Also in the news: Bad loans lurking under Christmas wrap, checking your state’s unclaimed property list, and robocalls soar to a new record.

6 Ways the Tax Plan Could Change Homeownership
Important things to know.

Bad Loans Lurk Under ‘Christmas’ Wrap
A payday loan wrapped in a bow.

Hey, Harold, Pick Up Your 300 Bucks
You could have unclaimed property waiting for you.

Phone spam soars to a new record
Fraud calls are at an all-time high.

The Huge, Hidden Costs of Owning a Home

refinancingFirst-time homebuyer Teresa Hair had owned her house less than two months when water started bubbling up through the guest bedroom floor.

“The whole floor was just covered,” says Hair, a 34-year-old attorney who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. “I pulled up all the laminate flooring and there was an inch of water.”

Finding and repairing the broken pipe — it was in a wall shared with the kitchen, behind the dishwasher — cost $1,000. Replacing the flooring may cost considerably more. But the expenses aren’t a crisis, Hair says, because she resisted the urge to buy as much home as lenders said she could afford. She also made sure the purchase, including closing costs, didn’t drain her savings.

“I still had a little bit of money saved up, so I wasn’t strapped,” Hair says. “You have to know when you buy a house that you’re going to need something in addition to what you need to close.”

In my latest for NerdWallet, how the hidden costs of homeownership can equal if not exceed the mortgage payments you send to the bank.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

taxesToday’s top story: How to write a retirement plan. Also in the news: The tax advantages of homeownership, tax tips for members of the military, and the billions of dollars in unclimed tax refunds.

How to Write a Retirement Plan
It’s a lot simpler than you might think.

Still Renting? You’re Missing These Tax Advantages
Homeownership has its benefits.

7 Tax Tips for Military Members
The IRS has special rules for military members.

The IRS Says They Have $1 Billion in Unclaimed Refunds, So Make Sure to Claim Yours
If you didn’t file taxes in 2012, you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars.