Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Credit score companies ordered to pay millions in refunds. Also in the news: How the Trump presidency will impact housing, how to refresh your finances in the new year, and how to become an extreme saver in 2017.

Credit Score Companies Must Refund $17.7 Million to Customers
Could you have a refund on the way?

How the Trump Presidency Will Impact Housing in 2017
A glimpse into the future.

Ask Brianna: How Can I Refresh My Finances for the New Year?

How to Become an Extreme Saver in 2017
Every penny counts.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Pile of Credit CardsToday’s top story: What yo look for in a credit card for bad credit. Also in the news: How to decide whether you should save, invest, or pay off student loans, how to spend less money in your 20s, and why next year’s tax refund might be late.

What to Look for in a Credit Card for Bad Credit
Pay close attention to fees.

Should I Save, Invest or Pay off Student Loans?
Using your money wisely.

10 Ways to Spend Less in Your 20s
The more you can save the better.

Adjust Your Withholding Now Because Next Year’s Tax Refund Might Be Late
Be prepared to wait.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

22856641_SAToday’s top story: Finding your college savings “magic number.” Also in the news: What to do when your bank isn’t measuring up, what to buy (and skip) over Labor Day weekend, and how teachers are bringing financial literacy into classrooms.

Finding Your ‘Magic Number’ for College Savings
Coming up with a reasonable estimate.

Bank Not Measuring Up? How to Tell and What to Do
You don’t have to stick with a bad bank.

What to Buy (and Skip) Over Labor Day Weekend
Navigating the sales.

How Teachers Are Bringing Financial Literacy Lessons to the Classroom
Getting kids excited about saving.

Q&A: Saving and investing for a child

Dear Liz: I recently got a court judgment for my daughter’s father to pay me child support. She is 1 year old, and it will be about $1,500 a month. I would like this money to be a gift for her when she is older. I’m told not to put it in her name now, as it may hurt her chance for financial aid for college later. How do you recommend I save and invest it for her? I’d like her to have it when she is a young adult.

Answer: This could be quite a gift for a young woman. If the money earned a 5% average annual return over time, you could be presenting her with a check for half a million dollars.

Consider putting at least some of the money in a 529 college savings plan. Withdrawals from these plans are tax-free when used to pay qualified college expenses. College savings plans receive favorable treatment in financial aid formulas because they’re considered an asset of the contributor (typically the parent), rather than the child.

Can you be too cautious about spending money?

Dear Liz: I think I have a phobia about spending money. I’m a young professional who has devoted a lot of time to building up my savings account. I also contribute sizable amounts to my 401(k) and IRA each month. I pay off my credit cards each month, and I am making larger-than-necessary payments on my small student loans. Still, I feel as if every time I spend money on something — clothing, travel, furniture, etc. — I am undoing my hard work. It makes me scrutinize every decision until I either give up or make an impulse purchase. Is this normal? How do I know when it is OK to actually spend the money I have worked to save?

Answer: Being cautious about spending money is fine. If making purchases causes you great anxiety, though, or you’re unnecessarily compromising your quality of life, then you may want to seek help.

People with irrational fears of spending money may put off necessary doctor visits, buy unhealthy food because it’s cheap (at least in the short run), refuse to make charitable contributions or forgo pleasurable experiences. Instead of using money as a tool to live a good life, they make saving an end in itself.

Since you’re by nature a saver and a planner, you should use those strengths to free yourself from unnecessary concerns about spending money. If you enjoy travel, for example, plan a few trips and set aside money in advance to pay for them. Do the same thing with clothing or furniture upgrades. Planning and knowing how much you have to spend can help you dispel some of your anxiety and minimize the chances of regret.

Talking to a therapist or a financial planner could give you some additional strategies for dealing with your worries.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Changes are coming to the 2014 mortgage market. Also in the news: The privacy of your credit score, financial predictions for 2014, and how to avoid charitable giving tax mishaps. credit

What You Need to Know About the 2014 Mortgage Market
Seven possible changes to next year’s mortgage market.

How Private Is Your Credit Score?
The amount of people who know your credit score might surprise you.

10 Personal Finance Predictions for 2014
NerdWallet reads the financial tea leaves.

Giving to Charity? Watch Out for These Tax Traps
Your generosity could come with a hefty price tag.

Will Banks Ever Pay Savers More?
Why banks hate people who save their money.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Preparing your home for the winter. Also in the news: Understanding the “kiddie tax”, why your chances of retiring early could be determined by your personality, and how to defeat the urge to binge shop.Education savings

Tips for Preparing Your Home for Winter
Don’t let your money go up in chimney smoke.

Understanding the ‘Kiddie Tax’
Those generous gifts could be generating taxable income.

Retiring Early May Come Down to Your “Financial Personality”
Are you a “protector” or a “pleaser”?

How to Defeat the Urge to Binge Shop
You might want to star by leaving your wallet at home.

Is Saving the Key to Happiness?
Money can’t buy you love, but saving it might just make you happy.

How to make saving money easier

Dear Liz: What’s the easiest way to save money? I have the hardest time. I want to save, but I feel that I don’t make enough to start saving.

Answer: The easiest way to save is to do it without thinking about it.

That usually means setting up automatic transfers either from your paycheck or from your checking account. If you have to think about putting aside money, you’ll probably think of other things to do with that cash. If it’s done automatically, you may be surprised at how fast the money piles up.

The second part of this equation is to leave your savings alone. If you’re constantly dipping into savings to cover regular expenses, you won’t get ahead.

People manage to save even on small incomes because they make it a priority. They “pay themselves first,” putting aside money for savings before any other bills are paid. Start with small, regular transfers and increase them as you can.