Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

financial-toolboxToday’s top story: 7 ways to improve your finances in 2017. Also in the news: How to help your kid graduate from college debt-free, how rising home values can boost your mortgage refinance, and why Americans are blowing it when it comes to personal finance.

7 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2017
Making the most of the new year.

Help Your Kid Graduate From College Debt-Free
The greatest graduation gift of them all.

Rising Home Values Can Boost Your Mortgage Refinance
You could be able to tap your home equity.

Americans are blowing it on personal finance
Making financial literacy one of your goals.

A president can’t fix your finances

Presidential candidates always promise economic improvements that are beyond their power to deliver. Any measures that actually could create more jobs, raise wages or lower tax burdens require the cooperation of Congress or business cycles or both.

Even if a president could lead us to the promised land of rising incomes and wealth, we wouldn’t get there overnight. America’s middle class has been wandering the economic desert for decades, and it will take years of better fortunes to restore what’s been taken away.

“Our economy is so large that both good and bad impacts are not seen until years or even a decade later,” said Michael Kitces, director of wealth management at Pinnacle Advisory Group in Columbia, Maryland.

That doesn’t mean you have to wait. In my latest for the Associated Press, what you can do to improve your own personal fortunes rather than wait for some politician to bail you out.

Money Lessons That Actually Stick

Efforts to make us smarter about money don’t seem to be working.

A Harvard Business School study found personal finance classes taught in high school had no effect on “financial outcomes,” such as how much people saved or how likely they were to miss payments on debt. A report for Management Science found that even intensive instruction had “negligible effects” on people’s behavior. That’s led some critics to say financial literacy education doesn’t work.

But other research has found methods that show promise. If you want to improve your relationship with money or teach your children about personal finance, these findings may help you do just that.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to best improve your relationship with money and pass that knowledge to your children.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

FICO-score-calculation-300x281Today’s top story: Applying for the wrong credit cards can make bad credit worse. Also in the news: Store reward programs worthwhileness, preschoolers and personal finance, and the #1 cause of financial stress in your state.

Applying for the Wrong Credit Cards Can Just Make Bad Credit Worse
Be selective.

Are Store Rewards Programs Worthwhile?
Only if you’ll actually use the benefits.

Should Preschoolers Be Taught Personal Finance?
It’s never too early to start.

This is the No. 1 cause of financial stress in your state
Odds are pretty good your state is worried about debt.

Americans Are Pissed — This Chart Might Explain Why

iStock_000087400741_SmallPeople are angry. Voters demanding change have helped make Donald Trump the presumptive Republican nominee for president and fueled Bernie Sanders’ ferocious challenge to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But what are they angry about? Ask and you’ll hear about Washington gridlock, Wall Street greed, trade, stagnant pay, immigration. In my latest for NerdWallet, the one huge factor that’s making this election especially unique.

How Much Debt Is Too Much?

crop380w_istock_000009258023xsmall-dbet-ball-and-chainIf you think the answer is simple, you may not understand the question.

That’s often true in life, but particularly so when we’re talking about debt. Simplistic, one-size-fits-all answers actually suit relatively few real people.

At one extreme are those who curse debt as a four-letter word and vow to avoid it entirely. At the other are those who revel in the notion of using “other people’s money” as much as possible.

In my latest for NerdWallet, how to use debt, rather than be used by it.

Wonder Why You’re Broke? Look in the Driveway

Rockhead126's_1951_Mercury_CustomIf you’re struggling to make ends meet, your problem may not be too many lattes or dinners out. It may be sitting in your driveway.

Your monthly car payment is the tip of the iceberg.

Counting gas, registration and taxes, depreciation, tires, insurance and finance charges, Americans spend $8,700 a year on average — $725 a month — for the privilege of owning a typical midsize sedan, according to AAA, and more than $10,600 a year for an SUV. If you’re struggling with bad credit, the increased cost of financing and insurance will push those numbers even higher.

In my latest for NerdWallet, how to determine if you have too much car in your driveway.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

lottery-ticket-jpgToday’s top story: The high cost of winning a billion dollars. Also in the news: Tips for tackling your student loan costs, how banks are earning billions in ATM and overdraft fees, and basic personal finance facts people constantly get wrong.

The High Cost of Claiming Your Powerball Jackpot
Winning a billion dollars is awfully expensive.

5 tips for tackling your student loan costs
Tackling them head on.

ATM and overdraft fees top $6 billion at the big 3 banks
How much did you contribute?

Six Basic Personal Finance Facts People Constantly Get Wrong
No more excuses.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to stop being afraid of credit cards. Also in the news: Personal finance lessons we wish we learned in school, protecting seniors from financial scams, and how to avoid money mistakes after losing a spouse.

Scared of Credit Cards? This Tool Could Help You Make the Leap
There’s nothing to be afraid of if you do it right.

6 personal finance lessons we wish were taught in school
Probably more helpful than trigonometry.

How to Guard Against Common Scams That Target Seniors
Protecting your loved ones from predators.

4 Money Mistakes People Often Make After a Spouse Dies
Don’t make any impulsive decisions.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

HopeToday’s top story: When it’s time to look for a new bank. Also in the news: Personal finance questions you need to answer, how to upgrade your financial life, and ten ways to have a financially happy marriage.

6 Signs It May Be Time to Switch Banks
Time for a new relationship?

8 Personal Finance Questions Most of Us Flunk
How did you do?

10 Steps to an Upgraded Financial Life
Give yourself a boost.

10 Ways to Have a Financially Happy Marriage
There are better things to argue about.