Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to protect your credit cards online. Also in the news: Tips to avoid investing scams, moves to make before the Fed raises interest rates, and how to handle investments if you divorce.

4 Ways to Protect Your Credit Cards Online
With holiday shopping just around the corner, you can’t be too careful.

Simple steps retirees (and others) can take to avoid investing scams
If it sounds too good to be true…

5 moves to make before the Fed raises rates
It’s only a matter of time.

How to Handle Investments When You Divorce
Making sure your assets are fairly divided.

Finally Start Saving for Retirement With the Help of Your Tax Refund
Saving instead of splurging.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Hand with money and toy car isolated on white background

Hand with money and toy car isolated on white background

Today’s top story: Tricks to help you build good credit. Also in the news: How rising interest rates will affect your investments, understanding the credit bureau differences, and what you should know before buying a new car.

3 Simple Tricks That Can Help You Build Good Credit
Improving your score a little bit at a time.

4 Ways Rising Interest Rates Will Affect Your Investments
Your savings accounts will benefit.

Why Your Credit Scores at the Three Bureaus Are All Different
Understanding the differences.

How Do Dealers Set Car Prices?
What you should know before heading into the dealership.

What a Fed rate hike will mean for your finances

percentageThe Fed’s decision to boost interest rates – when it finally happens – will not significantly impact your household budget, at least not immediately. Instead, take it as a signal to get your finances ready for the increases to come.

“It’s like the first snowfall,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com. “The first snowfall is not what closes roads and cancels school. But it’s a sign the seasons are changing.”

The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank typically changes the influential federal funds rate in a series of moves over time rather than all at once. The Fed’s last sequence of 17 quarter-point rate increases over two years ended in June 2006, while 10 subsequent cuts between September 2007 and December 2008 left the rate near 0 percent.

Future increases may well be more gradual given the challenges the economy faces, McBride said.

“This is going to be different than last time,” McBride said. One increase “doesn’t mean the second will be on its heels.”

In my latest for Reuters, a look at what an eventual boost in the rates will mean for your finances.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

law-technology-podcasts-300x300Today’s top story: Seven money podcasts you should be tuning in to. Also in the news: Why your parents’ financial advisor keeps asking about you, how small business owners can prepare for an interest rate hike, and a guide to debit vs credit cards.

7 Money Podcasts You Should Be Following
Making your commute more enjoyable and profitable!

Why Your Parents’ Financial Advisor Asks About You
A different kind of inheritance.

3 Ways Small-Business Owners Can Prepare for an Interest Rate Hike
The days of zero percent interest rates could be coming to an end.

A Simple Guide to Debit vs. Credit Cards
Which is best for you?

Want to Get Out of Debt? Study Finds Best Way to Do It
Where should you start?

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: What happens if you get caught lying on your FAFSA? Also in the news: Why your financial life is a mess, which interest rate you should choose, and the credit score every small business owner should understand.

What Happens If You Lie on Your FAFSA?
Resist the temptation.

Fixed or Variable: Which Interest Rate Should You Choose?
Which interest rate is best for you?

The Credit Score Every Small Business Owner Needs to Understand
Introducing the FICO SBSS.

Top Seven Reasons Why Your Financial Life Is A Mess
Getting your financial house in order.

If You Won’t Remember Something in a Week, Don’t Buy It
Smart advice.

Q&A: Credit card interest rates

Dear Liz: I have had a certain credit card for over five years. I just received a letter stating that my interest rate was going to be raised from 10.24% to 12.24%. My FICO score is 819 and I have never had late payments on any of my cards. I called the issuer to complain about this change but they will not reduce the rate. The letter states that they obtained my FICO score of 819 from Experian and used the score to make the decision to raise my APR. They told me that they are raising rates across the board for customers with FICO scores over 800. Why are credit card companies allowed to do this? It is so unfair.

Answer: Credit card companies are no longer allowed to raise interest rates arbitrarily on individuals’ existing balances, as they could — and often did — before the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009. Now card issuers are allowed to raise your interest rate on an existing balance only if you’re 60 days or more late with your payment, a promotional rate has expired or the index to which a variable-rate card is linked has gone up.

Credit card companies can, however, raise your interest rate going forward for pretty much any reason they want, and new balances will accrue at the higher rate. Also, the CARD Act’s restrictions apply only to consumer credit cards; business credit cards aren’t covered by the law.

Changeable rates are just one of the reasons why it’s not smart to carry credit card balances. Since you have high credit scores, though, it should be easy for you to find another card with a low promotional rate. Some cards now offer a 0% rate for 12, 15 or 18 months, although you’ll typically pay a balance transfer fee of around 3%. Sites such as CreditCards.com, NerdWallet and LowCards.com, among others, list these competitive offers.

Once you get the new card, you should work to pay off the entire balance before the promotional rate expires.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

847_interestrates1Today’s top story: Why the Fed’s rate changes won’t immediately impact your loans. Also in the news:Why all credit checks aren’t created equal, how to avoid an IRS audit, and the four pillars of building wealth.

Why Fed Moves Won’t Hugely Affect Your Loans Anytime Soon
A slow creep instead of a dramatic jump.

Do All Credit Checks Hurt My Credit?
Not all credit checks are created equal.

How to avoid an IRS tax audit
Avoiding an unpleasant experience.

No Matter What, Building Wealth Always Comes Down to These Four Pillars
The four constants.

Target to Settle Data Breach for $10 Million
One of the largest breaches in retail history.

Q&A: IRA interest rate terms

Dear Liz: I went to renew my IRA certificate of deposit and the bank officer suggested that I renew at the greater rate being offered for a five-year term (about 1.5% APR) rather than the lower rate for a one-year term (about 1% APR). She explained that since I am over 59 1/2, I can close the account at any time and roll it over to a new IRA should rates rise (for example to 1.75% in 15 months) with no penalty whatsoever. Is this true?

Answer: You don’t have to close and reopen IRAs when a CD matures or you want to change investments. The IRA is the bucket that holds your investment, not the investment itself. You also should be skeptical about claims that you would pay no penalty for early withdrawal. Not only are such penalties the norm, but a Bankrate survey found 9 out of 10 banks won’t just require you to forfeit the interest but will dip into your principal to pay the fees if necessary. The bank may offer a one-time opportunity to lock in a higher rate; if that’s the case, you should get the details in writing as well as the penalties if you have to withdraw the money prematurely.

In fact, any time someone pitches you an investment for your retirement funds, you should ask a lot of questions and get every detail and promise in writing. If the pitch is coming from someone who will profit from your investment — which is often the case — you should consider running it past a neutral third party such as a fee-only planner.

By the way, the Federal Reserve has signaled that it’s considering raising interest rates this year. That’s no guarantee that it will, but locking up your money now is a gamble.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

debt-freeToday’s top story: How to perform a debt autopsy. Also in the news: How to choose between leasing and financing a new vehicle, spring break travel tips, and how to tell if a credit card has a good interest rate.

If You Really Want to Kill Off Your Debt, Do a Debt Autopsy
Not nearly as scary as it sounds.

How to Choose Between Vehicle Leasing and Financing
Deciding what’s best for you.

12 Major Travel Sites Reveal How to Save on Top Spring Break Destinations
Spend less on travel and more on fun.

How to Tell If a Credit Card Has a Good Interest Rate
Do your research.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

download (1)Today’s top story: Knowing when you’ve been hit with a higher interest rate on your credit cards. Also in the news: Tips for an easier tax season, why your spending habits are killing your budget, and how you’re gambling with your money and don’t even know it.

How to Tell If You’ve Been Hit With a Higher Interest Rate on a New Credit Card
Introducing the Risk-Based Pricing Rule.

4 Steps to a Smoother Tax Season
It doesn’t have to be painful.

Examine Your Spending Habits Instead of Creating Categorized Budgets
Your habits could be dismantling your budget.

5 Things to Do Now to Avoid Freaking Out Over Taxes in April
Make your life a little easier.

5 Ways You’re Gambling With Your Money
And may not even know it.