Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to join a deluge of insurance claims for flooded cars. Also in the news: The pros and cons of zero down payment mortgages, what investors need to know about the SEC hack, and 5 budgeting apps that will save you money.

How to Join a Deluge of Insurance Claims for Flooded Cars
Drying out after Harvey and Irma.

Ins, Outs, Pros and Cons of Zero Down Payment Mortgages
What to look out for.

The SEC Hack: What Investors Need to Know
Could you be affected?

5 Budgeting Apps That Will Save You Money
A budget right in your pocket.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How 3 people conquered credit trouble and bought homes. Also in the news: Top 10 apps for buying the right car at the right time, biting on Whole Foods new prices, and 6 Equifax hack rumors fact-checked.

How 3 People Conquered Credit Trouble and Bought Homes
How to come back from credit trouble.

Top 10 Apps for Buying the Right Car at the Right Price
Get the car you want at the price you want.

Should You Bite On Whole Foods’ New Prices? Maybe Not
Are you really saving?

6 Equifax hack rumors fact-checked
Fact from fiction.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to lower your monthly mortgage payment. Also in the news: 5 things to do before changing careers, a Labor Day look at America’s workforce, and 3 myths that could tank your credit score.

How to Lower Your Monthly Mortgage Payment
Taking the first steps.

Want to Change Careers? Do These 5 Things First
Preparing for change.

Hard at Work: A Labor Day Look at America’s Workforce
Where we’ve been and where we’re going.

3 myths that could tank your credit score
Don’t believe the hype.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 things your credit reports won’t reveal. Also in the news: More credit card issuers are letting you pay off debt for free, everything you need to know about mortgage loan modifications, and how to stay debt-free during back-to-school shopping.

5 Things Your Credit Reports Won’t Reveal
What’s missing from your credit report.

More Credit Card Issuers Let You Pay Off Debt for Free
It’s never been easier to transfer balances.

All You Need to Know About Mortgage Loan Modifications
Modifications could help prevent foreclosure.

How to Stay Debt-Free During the Back-to-School Shopping Rush
Tips for getting it done.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to decide between investing or paying off your mortgage. Also in the news: Using payment apps in college, what you need to know about FHA mortgage insurance, and how to calculate how much an equity offer is worth in salary.

Invest or Pay Off Your Mortgage? How to Decide
Which is the smarter move?

You’re going to college: Time to start using payment apps
Streamlining your finances.

FHA Mortgage Insurance: What You Need to Know
Is it worth the cost?

Calculate How Much Your Equity Offer Is Worth in Terms of Salary
Discovering what you’re worth.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Brace yourself for higher car insurance rates. Also in the news: Making biweekly mortgage payments, paying down debt with extra payments, and the two stressful views about money half of millennials share.

Brace Yourself for Higher Car Insurance Rates
Why rates continue to climb.

Should You Make Biweekly Mortgage Payments?
What you need to know before switching.

How I Ditched Debt: Extra Payments Became Her Obsession
Chipping away bit by bit.

Half of millennials share two stressful views about money
Student loan debt causes great angst.

Q&A: How cosigning a mortgage loan can bring big risks

Dear Liz: I’ve been self-employed for just over a year. Because of disbursements from a recent divorce, I have enough money to make a 40% down payment on a modest house. My income will easily cover the resulting mortgage payments, health insurance and other expenses, but I’ve been turned down for a loan several times without a cosigner. A family member has offered many times to do this, as the person doesn’t have the means or interest in buying a house anytime soon for various reasons. Reluctantly I am considering it.

This person has a good job but will not be contributing any money toward my down payment or mortgage payments. I plan on setting up a separate shared bank account that will cover at least a year to 18 months of expenses for the home in case something happens to me, so my relative isn’t burdened in any way. I also plan on listing this person as a beneficiary on the mortgage so they could choose to sell the house or live in it.

What would be the tax liability if this happens? What if we become roommates and they pay me rent? Would it be a good idea to refinance in a year or so to remove the cosigner? Would a revocable living trust be a better way to handle this situation?

Answer: The best way to handle this situation is to find a good real estate attorney who can explain your options. Your relative should do the same.

Cosigning a loan would have a lot of upside to you and mostly downside to your relative. Cosigners are equally responsible for the home loan, but they aren’t typically owners of the property.

If you want your relative to inherit the house should you die, you can include her as the property’s beneficiary in estate planning documents or a transfer on death deed, if your state has that document for real estate. (Mortgages aren’t assets, so they don’t have beneficiaries.) If your relative inherits the house, she typically wouldn’t owe taxes unless yours is one of the six states that still has an inheritance tax (Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey or Pennsylvania). In these states, closer relatives typically pay a lower rate than more distant relatives or those who aren’t related.

You also could leave a sum of money to pay the home’s expenses for a certain period. That probably would be a better idea than a shared bank account, unless your relative insists on access to such a thing as a condition of the loan. In general, you should minimize financial entanglements with people if you’re not married to them or legally or morally responsible for them.

You probably should try to refinance this loan at your earliest opportunity, rather than leaving her on the loan or inviting her to be your tenant. Even in areas where landlord-tenant law favors the landlord, such a relationship can be tricky. In other areas, you could find yourself saddled with a relative who would be extremely difficult to evict.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Down payment strategies for first-time buyers. Also in the news: How businesses succeed serving the “bottom of the pyramid,” 3 simple ways to save on Father’s Day, and how easy it is to switch to a credit union.

Down Payment Strategies for First-Time Home Buyers
Taking a big step.

How Businesses Succeed Serving ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’
Serving a need.

3 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Save on Father’s Day
Good things for Dad.

Here’s How Easy It Is to Switch to a Credit Union
Simple.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The No-Drama approach to personal finance. Also in the news: Hiking your savings rate, how to find the right credit card the right way, and why you should beware of mortgage companies offering to double your down payment.

The No-Drama Approach to Personal Finance
There’s no crying in personal finance.

If the Fed Can, So Can You: Hike Your Savings Rate
Finding a high-yield account.

Sean Talks Money: Find the Right Credit Card the Right Way
Be selective.

This company will double your down payment. What’s the catch?
It’s a big one.

Q&A: The new reverse mortgage is safer but still expensive

Dear Liz: If you have never written about the new reverse mortgages, please consider it. I’m nearly 90 and this Home Equity Conversion Mortgage sounds too good to be true. Is it? I’ve talked to a broker and a direct lender and attended a two-hour seminar on the subject.

Answer: Reverse mortgages once deserved their bad reputation, but changes to the Federal Housing Administration’s HECM program in recent years have made them safer and less expensive. They’re still not a cheap way to borrow, though, because of significant upfront costs. Using a home equity loan or line of credit is often a better option if you can make the payments.

A reverse mortgage may be an option if you can’t make payments. These loans allow you to tap the equity in your home if you’re 62 or older. The amount you borrow plus interest compounds over time and is paid off when you die, sell or permanently move out. You can get the money as a lump sum, in a series of monthly checks or as a line of credit you can tap.

The older you get, the more you can receive from your home — but you can’t get the money all at once, as you could in the past. If you choose the lump sum option, you can only access 60% of your loan amount the first year. This restriction was put in place to keep you from blowing through your equity too fast.

While reverse mortgages have improved, some of the people touting them have not. Investment salespeople and scam artists sometimes try to push older people into reverse mortgages as a way to come up with cash to invest in their schemes.

You’re required to get counseling from someone approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to discuss how reverse mortgages work and how much one may cost you. In addition, consider hiring a fee-only financial planner to give you advice.