Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Don’t get taken by government grant scams. Also in the news: When you should and shouldn’t tap your Roth IRA, using your credit cards to pay for child care, and a report that finds many American teens lack basic financial skills.

Don’t Get Taken by Government Grant Scams
The government doesn’t want to give you money.

When You Should — and Shouldn’t — Tap Your Roth IRA
Let your interest rate be your guide.

Should You Use Credit Cards to Pay for Child Care?
Depends on the card.

Report finds many American teens lack basic financial skills
Not a good sign.

Q&A: Start saving early for retirement in case that last day of work sneaks up on you

Dear Liz: What advice would you give to a Silicon Valley professional who hasn’t done a good job planning for retirement? I’m 53 and maxing out my 401(k), saving $24,000 a year with my employer matching my contributions dollar for dollar up to 6% of salary. In addition, I’m saving $50,000 to $60,000 of my $240,000 annual salary. I’m debt free.

I wish I had started saving like this early in my career. Looks like I’ll probably have to work until I’m at least 65 or 70. Any advice on retirement planning would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Your current savings rate is impressive, but you probably should plan to work at least until your full retirement age for Social Security, which is age 67.

Retiring earlier would require you to cut back even more on your spending or increase the odds your funds won’t last you through a long retirement.

Early retirement may be involuntary, of course.

Many people retire sooner than they expect thanks to a layoff, a health crisis or the need to take care of a family member. That is yet another reason why people should get started saving for retirement as early as possible — they may not have as many years to save as they think, and making up for lost time gets increasingly difficult the longer they wait.

Most people aren’t in the fortunate position to be able to save 30% or more of their incomes in their 50s, which means catching up is close to impossible.

You may still have options if your career and your savings sprint are cut short.

If you own a home, you can tap the equity either by downsizing (selling and moving to a smaller place) or using a reverse mortgage. You can reduce your expenses, possibly by moving to an area with a lower cost of living. You can supplement your retirement income by working part-time.

You also should consider maximizing your Social Security check by delaying benefits until age 70, even if you wind up retiring earlier. Social Security benefits grow by 8% a year between full retirement age and age 70, which is a guaranteed rate of return you can’t find anywhere else.

Delaying Social Security is a way to insure against longevity — if you live longer than you think and run out of other money, that larger check can help protect you from poverty at the end of your life.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 money tools to save you from yourself. Also in the news: Why paying off debt with retirement money can be dangerous, how to make money selling stuff online, and why you should think twice before giving up financial control at the altar.

3 Money Tools to Save You From Yourself
We could all use a little help.

A High-Wire Act: Paying Off Debt With Retirement Money
A dicey proposition.

How to Make Money Selling Stuff Online
Putting money in your pockets by creating room in your closet.

Think twice before giving up financial control at the altar
Create a balance instead.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to read the fine print on credit card offers. Also in the news: Mistakes to avoid if you want your student loans forgiven, how to switch brokers and move your investments, and three retirement savings strategiess to use if you plan to retire early.

How to Read the Fine Print of Credit Card Offers
Paying close attention.

Want Your Student Loans Forgiven? Avoid These 4 Mistakes
Forgiveness is possible.

How to Switch Brokers and Move Your Investments
Big banking moves.

Three retirement savings strategies to use if you plan to retire early
Getting out as soon as you can.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to dodge scams and time-wasters in the online job market. Also in the news: Credit card bonuses are drifting further away, how job hopping can hurt Millennials in retirement, and how to fraud-proof your retirement savings.

Online Jobs: How to Dodge Scams and Time-Wasters
Don’t get taken for a ride.

As Credit Card Bonuses Balloon, They Drift Further Away
Bigger isn’t necessarily better in this case.

Job Hopping Can Hurt Millennials in Retirement
The 401(k) game.

6 ways to fraud-proof your retirement savings
Protecting your savings.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The 4 perks of Solo 401(k) for business owners and freelancers. Also in the news: How to monitor your credit in exactly 250 words, how to eat healthy on a budget, and the best places to retire in 2017.

4 Perks of Solo 401(k) for Business Owners and Freelancers
Retirement savings for sole employees.

How to Monitor Credit in (Exactly) 250 Words
Short and sweet.

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
You don’t have to live on ramen.

The Best Places To Retire In 2017
Where would you like to go?

Retire right — plan to do it twice

There’s the retirement that looks like the commercials: biking, travel, enjoying the family.

And then there’s the one where you can’t get up the stairs anymore.

Most of us happily plan for the first, when our health is good and energy high. The second can be hard to contemplate, when health falters and medical crises can change lives in an instant.

Yet a focus on just the active part of retirement can shortchange your quality of life once you begin to decline, which is why financial advisers suggest you also look at how you’ll live in that later phase. In my latest for the Associated Press, what you should consider for that second stage.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The student loan tip that saves you money year after year. Also in the news: Overlooked small business tax deductions, when you need a cashier’s check and how to get one, and why Americans are drastically under-saved for retirement.

This Student Loan Tip Saves You Money Year After Year
It’s all about auto-pay.

5 Overlooked Small-Business Tax Deductions for 2017
Don’t forget these deductions.

Cashier’s Check: When You Need One and How to Get It
Another form of payment.

It’s worse than you thought: Americans are drastically under-saved for retirement
Are you one of them?

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What retirement savers need to know about Trump’s action on the advisor rule. Also in the news: Using your emergency fund to pay off debt, breaking up with your bank, and what to do if the IRS breaks the rules.

What Trump’s Action on Advisor Rule Means for Retirement Savers
The fiduciary rule is now in question.

Emergency Funds: Should You Use Yours to Pay Down Debt?
Making a tough decision.

Sean Talks Money: Don’t Cling to a Bank You Don’t Love
Breaking up with your bank.

Know your rights if the IRS breaks the rules
Taxpayers have rights, too.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to find a good tax preparer. Also in the news: Excuses for delaying retirement savings, what the TCF bank suit means for you, and why used cars usually have higher interests rates.

How to Find a Good Tax Preparer (and Write Off the Bad Ones)
Finding good help during tax season.

Excuses, Excuses When Delaying Retirement Savings
No more excuses.

What TCF Bank Suit Means for You: Defend Against Overdraft Fees
What opting in really means.

Why Used Cars Usually Have Higher Interest Rates
Guarding against risk.